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Apr 092010

From Green Right Now Reports

The fast food industry is slow to get that it needs to move to more sustainable packaging. That’s the word from the Dogwood Alliance, which this week launched a public awareness effort called Kentucky Fried Forests campaign to skewer Kentucky Fried Chicken’s practice of using unsustainably sourced paper.

(Photo: Dogwood Alliance)

(Photo: Dogwood Alliance)

Dogwood, a 14-year-old group focused on saving forests in the U.S. South, reports that Louisville-based KFC is failing to protect domestic forests by using paper that does not come from operations certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC certification, used by Walmart, IKEA and other major retailers of wood products, is considered the gold standard for certification.

KFC, however, uses paper from the logging industry’s self-developed Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which Dogwood calls a greenwashing “certification scheme.”

The SFI is “a green label on products made from business-as-usual industrial forestry practices,’’ the group says in a news release.

The group laments that only one Southern mill out of about 100 produces paper packaging that is sourced from authentically certified forests that adhere to the FSC’s stricter standards.

The nation’s Southern forests provide paper packaging for companies around the world, supplying 20 percent of global needs for pulp, paper and lumber with just 2 percent of the world’s forests. But with such low participation in the FSC’s certification program, the South is losing its forests to clear cutting for paper and paper packaging, Dogwood leaders say.

Dogwood is calling on KFC to lead the way out of this forest of destruction, because it is both a big user of paper packaging and an established Southern business.

“KFC prides itself as a southern heritage brand while it has knowingly contributed to the destruction of the natural riches within this community for decades,” stated Danna Smith, executive director of Dogwood Alliance. “It’s time for KFC to lead, and prevent these areas that have served as flood barriers, a vital source of clean drinking water and places of recreation for southerners for hundreds of years, from becoming disposable buckets for KFC chicken.”

KFC, a part of Yum! Brands, operates 5,200 restaurants in the United States and thousands more outlets around the world. It did not have an immediate response to the Dogwood action on its website. KFC did offer information about its newest product, the double-down bunless (but not paperless) chicken sandwich, which is served without a bun. The buns will be donated to charity as part of the “sandwiches” promotion.

Dogwood, meanwhile, has its sites on the KFC buckets, which are more emblematic of the packaging involved in fast food.

It chides KFC for getting its packaging source material from International Paper, which it says also uses the deceptive SFI certification to mask destructive forestry practices.

“IP has long been associated with the worst forestry practices, including large-scale clearcutting and the conversion of diverse natural forests to sterile mono-culture plantations,’’ the group reports.

IP reports on its sustainability webpage that “our company has been one of the most environmentally responsible companies in the world. We have always taken a sustainable approach to business that balances environmental, social and economic needs. This approach has served our company and society well.”

IP also defends its use of the SFI certification, saying on its website that: “Our company supports the existence of multiple certification standards to increase the amount of certified fiber and the concept of mutual recognition, which acknowledges that responsible forest management can be achieved through a number of credible certification systems.”