In Focus
FAST CASUAL | Staff Reporter, Australia

KFC on the radar of Cordon Bleu for CSR credentials

From using LED lighting and recycling old uniforms to oil recycling and power usage monitoring, KFC Australia is leading the way in sustainable initiatives. And one school recently took notice.

More than 20 Cordon Bleu cooking school students saw KFC's sustainability efforts first-hand in a recent visit to KFC's new concept store at Parramatta, Sydney. The CSR manager of KFC Australia then gave them a talk about the various initiatives they are rolling out across their network of over 600 restaurants.

The visit itself was the result of a paper written by Cordon Bleu student Hyejin Joen. Hyejin had heard through a friend--and reinforced through Google searches--that KFC Australia was indeed leading the way in sustainable initiatives. The school then approached KFC about doing a tour of their new concept store in Parramatta.

The KFC CSR manager explained that their CSR framework has four pillars: People, Food, Community and Environment. "We have 30,000 employees across our franchisee and company-owned stores and a passion for great tasting food.”

As we all know KFC serves food fast, but there was nothing quick when it came to their sustainable initiatives. It took them four years to install their co-mingle recycle bins and three years of R&D to get it right. Today these bins recycle some 80 tonnes of co-mingle material every year across 190 KFC outlets. The company also manages to recycle around 2000 tonnes of cardboard per annum.

The sustainability initiative at Parramatta was, in part, spurred on after the city's local council did an audit of the waste from its numerous restaurants. They found that a staggering 50% of the waste was made up of food.

After learning this, KFC began thinking of different ways to use this food waste, from composting to using new technologies that turn this waste into power. But first, it needs to be a system that both works for the customer and is also easy for the staff to do. They are going through the investigation of various trials as they look at how to reduce or re-use food waste.

KFC's sustainable initiatives may even be more varied than their menu choices. For their electricity, they stagger their usage depending on their needs so that all their equipment doesn't turn on all at once.

And like households trying to work within a certain budget, they diligently track and manage their power usage. KFC managers have a portal where they can login to track energy usage in 30-minute increments. KFC Australia is in its fourth year of National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting, providing information to the Australian Department of Environment Clean Energy Regulator on its carbon emissions across its 600 stores.

With the help of Pacific Nonwoven, KFC was able to turn old uniforms into carpet underlay. And that used cooking oil from their fryers? It’s now being used as biofuels.
The company says that this is part of their "industrial ecology," where one person's waste becomes another person's resource.

KFC Australia has been reducing energy consumption through a variety of programs at its company-owned stores. They've seen a seven percent reduction in their overall energy bills with these methods.

Even their customers are part of their sustainability efforts. KFC has committed to educating customers on recycling their rubbish.

KFC Australia is also taking corporate social responsibility beyond its stores. The company shares what it has learned with its supply chain to help make them more energy efficient. The company then implements an environmental audit across its supplier base. KFC Australia is leading the way in a lot of these initiatives and key learning’s will be adopted by other countries in its global network.

Beyond the financial benefits, KFC has seen a very positive impact on staff. The young employees in their stores are inspired and work with pride as they know that they're also helping the environment.

As she talks to the Cordon Bleu students, the KFC CSR manager sums up all these efforts at sustainability and being environment-friendly into one statement: The company cares.

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