Yum Brands Explores Green Efforts Around the World

Yum Brands Explores Green Efforts Around the World

With about 36,000 restaurants around the world, Yum Brands has a lot of room to test green programs and can make significant impacts with companywide initiatives.

The parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver's and A&W has published its first corporate responsibility report, highlighting changes being made on large and small scales throughout its operations.

Many concrete steps have already been taken, but the company also recognizes the potential in areas where it has just scratched the surface. With research and efforts underway into renewable energy, grease recycling and green building, the next Yum! Brands corporate responsibility report will come out in 2010.

Over the past two years, Yum has focused primarily on reducing energy use, saving 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and $17 million in energy expenses; the company's goal was to reduce emissions by 51,000 metric tons.

Yum now plans to reduce energy use by 12 percent in U.S. restaurants and by 10 percent in international locations by 2010. Energy efforts include replacing fluorescent lights and air conditioners with more efficient products and using energy management systems to control the operating hours of all lights. Locations in Australia are testing natural gas open fryers as replacements for electric fryers.

Within the U.S., 62 percent of Yum restaurants recycle, and the company plans to look into grease trap, spent fryer grease and food waste recycling. U.K. locations send their waste oil to become biodiesel, and a KFC in Nagano City, Japan, runs entirely on biodiesel, much of its coming from the restaurant's own waste.

The brands within Yum have integrated recycled content into a wide variety of packaging. Pizza Hut recently started using boxes with 75 percent recycled content, and this year Taco Bell stopped using paper tray liners, redesigned two plastic cups and redesigned seven paper wraps, altogether reducing paper use by 3.2 million pounds and plastic use by 4.6 million pounds.

Yum also has created a Restaurant Education Team to communicate best practices throughout its vast operations, has a Monitoring and Reporting Team reviewing emissions and resource use, is working on improving equipment design and sourcing to increase efficiency and is starting a green building program, kicking off with a Northampton, Mass., restaurant that will be Yum's first to seek LEED certification.