A group of nine environmental organizations has asked KFC to stop using products carrying the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification label.
According to Mongabay Environmental News, the Dogwood Alliance, ForestEthics, Green America, Greenpeace US, the Gulf Restoration Network, Heartwood, NRDC, the Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club signed a letter calling on the quick-service giant to stop using SFI, claiming it is nothing more than a "greenwashing" initiative created by forestry companies that are unwilling to meet guidelines set by the well-respected Forest Stewardship Council.
Specifically, the Dogwood Alliance said the SFI was created as a "marketing label" by the American Forest and Paper Association and certifies destructive forestry practices, such as logging of endangered forests, widespread use of toxic chemicals and large-scale clearcutting.
This isn't the first quarrel between the Dogwood Alliance and KFC. The group launched a solo campaign against KFC in April, hoping to encourage the QSR to adopt more eco-friendly paper packaging sourcing practices.
The group singled out KFC because of its positioning as a Southern heritage brand and called on the company to become a leader by relying on Southern paper packaging sourced from Forest Stewardship Council-certified sustainably managed forests. Members of the alliance held a public rally in front of KFC's flagship store in Louisville, Ky. to launch its still-ongoing "Kentucky Fried Forests" campaign.
In response, KFC released a statement claiming it is "as committed to the environment as we are to our food and to our customers;" for example, using 100 percent recycled paper bags and in-store napkins. KFC also was named a Greener Package Award winner for packaging sustainability in August.
But the environmental groups aren't convinced.
"By endorsing the SFI they are either directly or inadvertently misleading their customers and the public," said Scot Quaranda of the Dogwood Alliance. "KFC has an opportunity to help protect forests in its own backyard, the Southern U.S., by rejecting the SFI and embracing FSC. We urge KFC to get educated about the SFI and stop hiding behind a phony green label."
The southern region of the United States is the largest paper producing region in the world (greater than any other single country), providing 20 percent of the globe's pulp, paper and lumber while only being home to 2 percent of the world's forests.