Burger King UK: minimising waste with reusable packaging

Learn how Burger King UK has launched reusable and returnable packaging, demonstrating a commitment to a circular economy approach.

A Business in the Community (BITC) member since 2013, the BURGER KING® brand is the second-largest quick-service restaurant chain in the world.

Recently, Burger King UK launched a new initiative on reusable and returnable packaging, demonstrating a commitment to a circular economy approach.

Introducing the UK’s first-ever reusable burger clamshell

Starting this month, Burger King UK will be trialling new reusable packaging options for customers, in partnership with Loop, a global reuse platform managed by TerraCycle. The new containers include both a reusable drink cup and the UK’s first reusable burger container or ‘clamshell’ container.

Burger King UK’s reusable packaging will be trialled at five restaurants in East Anglia until September. Customer responses will be closely monitored to inform future plans for a long-term reusable packaging scheme. In the initial restaurants, customers will be able to use the reusable packaging once they pay the £1 deposit for each item. Burger King UK plans to offer as much of the menu as possible in the new reusable containers. Once they finish with their food, customers can bring back the item whenever convenient, even within a few weeks. To do so, they download the Loop app and scan the packaging’s unique QR code to register the return. They then deposit the used packaging in a dedicated bin outside the restaurant.

Burger King UK is putting customer convenience at the forefront of this initiative by offering a different approach to other brands’ reusable packaging strategies. Burger King UK requires customers to return the used packaging items, rather than buy and keep them for themselves. The company believes that this is a more convenient option, as customers will not have to remember to bring their reusable items back with them when visiting the restaurant. To add to the convenience, customers are not required to clean the packaging themselves. Instead Loop will handle this by sending them to a professional cleaning facility. In addition, customers can deposit used packaging in any Loop bins, which are becoming available in more locations across the country.

“It is only through collaboration that we can create a sustainable future for our planet”

Olivia Bailey, Responsible Business Programme Coordinator at Burger King UK

Tackling waste with a circular economy approach

Burger King UK’s inclusion of more reusable packaging demonstrates a circular economy approach, one of the core areas of BITC’s Responsible Business Map. The circular economy focuses on maximising value and minimising waste. The goal is to protect valuable resources, lowering carbon emissions and allow the regeneration of nature.

Reusable packaging helps reduce waste and is a better alternative to a recycling-led approach. The World Economic Forum states that only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally1. Large amounts of single-use plastic intended for recycling is burned or thrown into landfill2. By moving towards reusable packaging, Burger King UK is significantly reducing the number of raw materials used in manufacturing and cutting down on waste.

Olivia Bailey, Responsible Business Programme Coordinator at Burger King UK, said of the initiative. “We are delighted to launch this innovative reusable and returnable packaging pilot to tackle single-use packaging and reduce waste. It aligns with our goal of eliminating single-use plastic within our restaurants by 2025 and our overarching ‘Burger King for Good’ commitment. We look forward to seeing how customers respond and using this insight to help inform our future reusable packaging plans.”

A wider focus on responsible business

As a member of BITC, Burger King UK demonstrates its commitment to becoming more responsible in areas like the circular economy. The company has published Burger King For Good, its responsible business strategy. It includes details on each of the company’s responsible business pillars such as ‘good for the planet,’ ‘animal welfare’ and ‘good for our people.’

Olivia is also a member of the BITC Future Leaders Board, which was established to help shape the future of responsible business. The board’s focus for 2021 was on engaging young people with the environment. Speaking on Burger King UK’s partnership with BITC, Olivia believes “it is only through collaboration that we can create a sustainable future for our planet.”

Burger King UK has run similar green initiatives in the past, including ‘The Meltdown,’ in which the company removed plastic toys from children’s meals while offering to recycle any unwanted plastic toys.

Get involved

Not a BITC member yet? Join Burger King UK and over 600 other leading businesses as a member and start driving climate action today. Join us.

If you are already a member, contact your Relationship Manager to discuss how we can support you with your environmental commitments and goals. Log in to MyBITC if you are not sure how to contact them.

BRING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY TO LIFE
IN YOUR ORGANISATION

References

  1. World Economic Forum (2019) Why is black plastic packaging so hard to recycle? 16 December.
  2. Renee Cho (2020) Recycling in the U.S. Is Broken. How Do We Fix It? Columbia Climate School, 13 March.