WATCH: How University’s Zero Carbon Research Institute is helping KFC reach Net Zero

The University of Liverpool’s Zero Carbon Research Institute (ZCRI) is partnering with major fried chicken restaurant KFC UK & Ireland to help drive its ambition to become a net zero carbon business by 2040 or sooner.

ZCRI, part of the University’s School of Architecture and a global leader in the field, will also help KFC become a circular zero waste business in food, packaging, and materials by 2035, alongside its commitment to Net Zero by 2040.

Dr Stephen Finnegan, ZCRI Director and Founder, said: “It’s a real pleasure to work with one of the world’s leading restaurant brands in their aim to becoming Net Zero Carbon (NZC) by 2040.

“People will ask the obvious question: Is this even possible? Can a restaurant have no carbon impact? The answer to both questions is YES. We are addressing these questions and many more by taking the most scientific approach possible.

“Of course, KFC will have a carbon impact and this project, amongst many others underway within the business, is the first step in quantifying it. It will take time and considerable effort, but it will be worth it, and we are 100% sure that achieving NZC is possible.

“Working with partners, we will be assessing the entire supply chain of KFC’s business, building 3D models of the restaurant types and considering all possible carbon mitigation measures from energy optimisation, construction materials and renewable technologies.

“Together with KFC, we have a solid plan in place; and most importantly, we have a solid commitment from KFC. These are the key ingredients you need for success.”

Through the partnership, KFC and the University are exploring the construction materials currently being used to build new restaurants and to refurbish existing ones, and will also consider the low carbon alternatives to further reduce embodied carbon.

The KFC Zero Carbon Restaurant will enable KFC to make new and existing restaurants much more efficient through utilising renewable energy and low carbon technologies – helping tackle both the operational and embodied carbon footprint, as well as aiding KFC in investigating Scope 3, value chain emissions.

To define the roadmap to achieve these ambitious new targets, KFC has also signed up to the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Roadmap for the retail sector. It’s also a founding member of the Zero Carbon Forum’s new coalition of hospitality businesses, which are plotting a pathway to net zero for the sector. Through these partnerships, KFC will hold themselves accountable throughout their journey towards achieving net zero.

Paula MacKenzie, Managing Director, KFC UK&I said: “It’s incumbent on all of us to address the climate emergency and combat the long- and short-term effects of global warming on the environment and on people.

“Anything short of that will lead to failure, and I passionately believe that we can’t address the urgent action that’s needed in the world today without businesses pulling their weight and playing their part.

“That’s why we’re baking our climate action strategy into the core of our business – from supply chain through to our restaurants and our guests.

“By partnering with the experts at the University of Liverpool, as well as working with the BRC and the Zero Carbon Forum, we’re making sure we do all that we can to make the biggest impact and reach our net zero target.”

Mark Chapman, CEO and Founder at Zero Carbon Forum, said: “It’s fantastic to see KFC, a founder member of Zero Carbon Forum, setting such ambitious net zero goals.

“More businesses across the sector are paving the way and cracking down on emissions, and partnerships are key. The only way we’ll reach net zero is through collaboration.

“We’re looking forward to working with and supporting KFC UK & Ireland over the coming months and years, and for all the exciting initiatives and innovations we’ll drive towards those targets.”

Dr Finnegan will join KFC UK&I Director of Responsibility, Jenny Packwood and Jon Hixson, Yum! Chief Sustainability Officer today for a roundtable event, Collaboration and the Countdown to a Zero Carbon Future, as part of COP26 in Glasgow.

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