Yum China, the operator of several fast-casual brands, including KFC and Pizza Hut in China, has stepped up its effort for the reduction of plastic use across its brands in the country.

The company has launched a series of environmentally friendly packaging initiatives in line with the latest regulations in the country.

These include replacing current plastic packaging with paper straws, paper bags, and biodegradable plastic bags.

With the new initiatives, Yum China expects to cut down approximately 8,000t of non-degradable plastics annually, beginning this year.

Yum China CEO Joey Wat said: “The new plastic reduction initiatives reinforce our sustainability strategy to drive meaningful change through packaging innovation and reduction.

“In line with our long-term commitment to supporting economic, social, and environmental development, we are committed to working with customers, partners, and all other stakeholders to promote a more sustainable future.”

Following the initiative, all KFC restaurants in mainland China will stop using plastic straws, starting this month. Pizza Hut restaurants in the region eliminated the use of plastic straws by the end of 2020.

In addition, over 90% of KFC restaurants will switch to wooden cutlery for dine-in and takeaway.

The non-degradable plastic bags used for delivery and takeaway in more than 50% of KFC restaurants will be replaced with paper bags or biodegradable plastic bags. 70% of Pizza Hut restaurants across the country are currently using paper bags or biodegradable plastic bags.

Yum China aims to phase out non-degradable plastic bags and cutlery across all KFC restaurants in mainland China by the end of 2025 and eliminate the use of non-degradable plastic bags in Pizza Hut restaurants by the end of 2022.

In January 2020, China announced plans to restrict the use of single-use plastic straws and bags to reduce plastic pollution.

In November last year, KFC announced that it would start testing a new fibre-based ‘spork’ at its select locations in Canada as part of its global initiative to make plastic-based packaging recoverable or reusable by 2025.