When Dogwood Alliance started taking on one of the largest fast food conglomerates in April 2010, it seemed this was a David versus Goliath struggle all over again, just as they had taken on other larger targets in previous campaigns. In the first year, KFC acknowledged the targeted campaign with a change in their packaging – in the wrong direction. They announced an unusual switch – moving from foam and plastic to a much more paperboard based lineup (see here for more details). They are boasting they will decrease foam packaging by 62% and plastic by 17% – with a corresponding increase in paper packaging.
At the same time, they are migrating toward requiring their paperboard suppliers to be registered by an environmental standard – undoubtedly coached by these same suppliers as to which standard to choose. Not surprisingly, the KFC-chosen standard is the dubiously named Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) – a standard principally created and supported by the paper industry to sustain already existing practices as environmentally sensitive. Even SFI on their own website tries to justify it’s own requirements, with quotes from a variety of organizations that mention SFI and the more stringent standard from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in the same sentences or publications (see here to read the greenwash).
There is hope that this is just the first step for KFC and their parent, YUM! Brands. It took a relatively short time for Dogwood to get some action from this giant company – these initiatives were mostly rolled out in October of 2010. And they now have a corporate statement that “KFC will assign no new business to paperboard suppliers who are not recognized by an international certification organization or using 100% recycled content.” FSC certification should be entirely acceptable, therefore – and should be specified explicitly, as well as required of ALL paperboard suppliers going forward. There is no perfect packaging material, and in some circles the movement away from plastic and foam we’re sure will be applauded. But the Colonel owes their customers a switch to FSC if they’re going to become an even larger user of paperboard than they already are, even more so as they are supposedly doing this for environmental reasons. Go to their Facebook wall and tell them so – they do pay attention to postings.