Environmental Group Barred from Sustainable Operations Summit at Request of Yum! Brands/KFC
Invitation Revoked and Attendance Fee Refunded for “Fear of Protest”
New York City – North Carolina based forest protection organization, Dogwood Alliance, was denied entry this morning to the Sustainable Operations Summit even though the group had been invited to attend by the conference organizers. It was soon discovered that the refusal of admittance came as a result of a request from Yum!Brands/KFC, whose Chief Sustainability Officer, Roger McClendon, is speaking on a panel at today’s conference.
Michael Owens, VP at CraigMichaels, Inc. and conference organizer, stated in an email to the group, “It has been brought to my attention that you are planning on protesting YUM Brands and Roger McClendon at the Sustainable Operations Summit. While I am all for free speech, and I truly respect what you guys do, I cannot allow you attend the summit.” When pressed in a subsequent phone conversation, he revealed that he was informed of planned protest by Yum! Brands/KFC.
The great irony is that the organization had no plans to protest KFC at the event. They were planning to attend so they could see the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer’s presentation on a panel entitled “Environmental Strategy as Business Strategy.” Though the group has been attempting to meet with KFC to discuss the impact of its paper packaging on the forests of the Southern US for over two years now, KFC has yet to schedule a meeting with the group, and this would have been the first time they ever had the opportunity to meet Roger face-to-face.
“It seems that KFC’s environmental business strategy is to exclude environmental stakeholders in order to avoid addressing important environmental issues,” stated Andrew Goldberg, Corporate Engagement Director at Dogwood Alliance. “This kind of business strategy may be good for the bottomline but is disastrous for our climate and environment.”
The phantom fear of protest seems to be based on Dogwood Alliance’s campaign, “Kentucky Fried Forests,” which exposes how critical wetland and other important forests in the Southern US are being destroyed to make KFC’s fast food packaging, including the iconic bucket. The group has attempted to engage KFC, asking them to reduce their overall use of packaging, increase the use of recycled paper, and stop buying paper packaging that comes from the worst of the worst practices in the woods.
Dogwood Alliance has a long and successful track record working with some of the largest paper producers and consumers in the US. Through a combination of grassroots pressure and negotiation, Dogwood Alliance has catalyzed change at major companies, including Staples, Office Depot, Georgia Pacific, and McDonalds, and helped shift market demand away from paper products produced at the expense of the long term health of Southern forests in favor of recycled paper and sustainable forestry.
“I hope that KFC and the Sustainable Operations Summit will learn a valuable lesson from this embarrassing situation, and in the future acknowledge the real and urgent need to bring together environmental organizations and large corporations in a dialogue about the impact of their business practices on the environment,” continued Goldberg. “How can you expect to make headway on some of the greatest issues facing our generation if you deny leading critics and a dissenting view a seat at the table?”
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Dogwood Alliance is increasing protection for millions of acres of Southern forests by transforming the way corporations, landowners and communities value them for their climate, wildlife and water benefits. Dogwood Alliance has revolutionized the environmental practices of some of the world’s largest corporations. To support Dogwood Alliance’s call for KFC to adopt sustainable packaging practices send a letter to KFC leadership via www.kentuckyfriedforests.com, for more information on the organization visit www.dogwoodalliance.org.