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Closing the Loop: Burger King Goes Green(er) in 2021

Burger King is going green—or greener, anyway—in 2021, starting today with 51 restaurants in Miami that will test new sustainable packaging, including straws, forks, spoons, knives, drink lids, Frypods (cup holder-friendly French fry packaging), Whopper wrappers and napkins.

The burger chain also plans to test reusable packaging created in a partnership with New Jersey-based TerraCycle, a company that works with the retail sector on solutions to eliminate plastic waste.

Related: Shake Shack starts testing sustainable, biodegradable straws and cutlery

Customers have to opt in to try the green packaging. If the pilot program is successful, the company has said it’s aiming to roll out its sustainable packaging nationwide in 2022.

According to Food & Wine, Burger King has begun testing green cutlery made from a plant-based plastic called cPLA. The napkins will be made with 100-percent recycled fiber. The Frypods consist of renewable, unbleached virgin paperboard.

The fast-food chain will also try out several alternatives to plastic straws, including paper-based and plant-based straws, as well as strawless lids. The company said it hopes to “eliminate up to 500 million single-use plastic straws annually from participating U.S. Burger King restaurants. This action alone would translate to the removal of 910 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year.”

Additionally, they’ll try out two types of sustainable Whopper wrappers—one with a 13 percent reduction in paper and another with a 34 percent reduction in paper.

At some point later this year, Burger King plans to test washable, reusable Whopper containers and cups. These cups can be returned by the customer through Loop, a circular package service and a division of TerraCycle. The containers will be sanitized by Loop and sent back to the restaurants for reuse, thus reducing the production of single-use packaging.

Related: This sustainable restaurant will top its pizzas with rejected veggies to combat food waste

This closed-loop, zero-waste solution will be tested in New York City, Portland, Tokyo, Paris and London. As with the pilot program in Miami, customers must opt in to try out the new packaging. They will have to pay a deposit at the time of purchase; once they return the packaging to Loop, they will receive a refund.

Burger King is trying out its greener and reusable packaging through pilot programs in order to test the products’ performance and gauge customers’ reaction. “By piloting solutions in restaurants, the brand is able to get direct feedback from guests on how the packages perform, make iterative changes with its supplier and build an implementation road map for the system,” according to a press release.

“The pilot will help advance Burger King restaurants’ sustainability strategy, building on existing commitments to reduce its environmental footprint and protect the planet for the long-term,” the press release states. “To support the sustainable production of packaging materials, 100% of guest packaging will be sourced from renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025. While working towards reducing the use of virgin materials and single-use packaging, the brand is also tackling the challenge of improved waste diversion, with a commitment to recycle guest packaging in 100% of restaurants in Canada and the U.S. by 2025.”