Food and beverage consumption, production, and waste have a considerable impact on the environment. Many studies have linked the industry to climate change, eutrophication and acid rain, as well as the depletion of biodiversity. Some aspects of the food and beverage industry are considered a drain on other resources, such as nutrients, land area, energy, and water. However, the business landscape is changing and consumers care more about doing supporting brands that align with their values. Eco-friendly practices are a more critical part of doing business today. Amid both government and customer pressures, many big brands are leading the pack with recent changes Several big brands are leading the pack, with recent changes. Here’s a peek into how a few of the biggest companies in the food industry are going green.
Turning on the Green Light
Yum! Brands is responsible for over 44,000 KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut locations throughout the world. In addition, the company is a member of the United States Green Building Council. They have focused on creating LEED-certified green buildings in several of their locations to conserve water, boost energy efficiency, and reduce waste 1 . Also, Taco Bell is a leader in fast food options for a vegetarian lifestyle (known to reduce carbon footprint).
Switching to Renewable Packaging
McDonald’s, America’s leading fast-food company, recently announced that it would eliminate foam packaging and source 100% of its packaging from renewable resources by 2025. Doing so will require significant investments in their infrastructure and consumer education.
Environmentally Responsible Suppliers
Subway has committed to sourcing ingredients from environmentally responsible suppliers. The company consistently makes strides in the sustainability arena. Most of the suppliers they work with are family farms that are committed to environmental stewardship. They are known to use eco-friendly tactics, like fuel-efficient tractors and energy-harvesting solar panels, to manage their farms.
Making Energy Conservation a Priority
Wendy’s strives to be a leader in energy conservation. To do so, they’ve created several initiatives, such as ensuring all new and remodeled Wendy’s restaurants are equipped with energy-saving LED lights inside and out. The brand also participates in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, which means they are committed to reducing their energy consumption by 20 percent by 2025.
Repurposing Used Equipment
Chipotle offers a unique initiative, the Harvest Program, that repurposes their used equipment. The company donates hundreds of grills and food processors to schools and other nonprofits each year. As a result, large items remain out of landfills. Also, Chipotle’s Harvest program generates meals from leftovers for those in need. They also offer plenty of vegetarian options.
Though we only mentioned fast-food chains, the food and beverage industry as a whole is undergoing many changes focused on sustainability. Customers are noticing and will continue to be loyal to brands who value the environment. Savvy companies will soon follow suit.