KFC takes on packaging waste with edible coffee cups at U.K. stores
KFC this week announced it will serve coffee in edible cups in its U.K. stores.
No, the news here isn’t that the fried-chicken chain sells coffee (though coffee isn’t sold at most of its U.S. locations), it’s that KFC has partnered with food scientists to create edible cups made from biscuits, wrapped in sugar paper and lined with a layer of white chocolate, Metro UK reported.
Edible packaging is a relatively new concept and could significantly reduce the amount of paper or plastic packaging used, said Environmental Paper Network advisory board member Darby Hoover. “One of the most promising applications,” Hoover said, “may be in the quick-service restaurant sector, as in this KFC example, where packages or containers that ordinarily are designed to be used once and then thrown away could instead be edible.”
But edible packaging might not necessarily be a “greener” option. “We need to be careful to ensure we aren’t just trading one kind of packaging for another,” Hoover said.
Dominique Ansel, of “cronut” fame, said edible cups won’t necessarily reduce paper consumption, as the edible cups may themselves come packaged.
“You would have to make sure the packaging is really treated like food and kept in temperature-controlled and sanitary conditions,” he said. “And then I would guess you should make sure you don’t directly place that on an unclean surface but use a separate plate.”
And then there’s the issue of food waste if people don’t actually eat the edible cups. “We also need to make sure that the edible packaging is tasty and appropriate to the type of food being served, so that we don’t just trade off wasting packaging for wasting more food,” Hoover said.