Wendy’s Promises to Find and Fund Solutions to Single-Use Plastic Problem

Fast food chain Wendy’s has announced an expansion to its existing sustainability commitment with its new “Squarely Sustainable” approach. It’s first step is to look at the company’s entire portfolio of packaging to identify ways to make improvements and minimize paper and plastic waste, according to the company.

Wendy’s has joined the NextGen Consortium, a partnership of foodservice companies , as part of its effort to find – and fund- solutions to single-use plastic and paper packaging, the company says. Such a partnership is important because “there simply are not widely available, commercially feasible packaging options to replace plastic, particularly when it comes to items like straws and lids that are recyclable, compostable or biodegradable,” according to the Wendy’s Square Deal blog.

Another challenge is the cup itself. Foodservice beverage cups are typically made of valuable pulp fiber, but serious infrastructure changes need to happen in order for that pulp to be recovered and reused, Wendy’s says.

The company’s Squarely Sustainable approach includes four pillars:

  • Use Less and reduce unnecessary materials across all of packaging;
  • Use Better and seek certified sustainable materials where possible;
  • Spark Action by identifying consumer-facing actions that can drive change – for instance, most Wendy’s dining rooms today have Coca-Cola Freestyle machines where lids and straws are self-serve, so customers can take one only if they need it;
  • Engage Partners to work with others to find solutions on important issues.

Wendy’s has already engaged in activities relating to the four pillars. For example, the company says, it uses energy efficient equipment, LED lighting, and furniture made from recycled materials, and it is working with designers, architects, engineers, builders and government agencies to build “smart” restaurants that save energy.

Wendy’s eliminated Styrofoam from restaurants in 2012. More recently, Wendy’s reduced fiber and plastic in several packaging formats, including fry cartons, straws and bags, reducing by several million pounds the amount of paper and plastic materials used in these items, the company says.

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