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Burger King to test reusable cups and Whopper boxes

Undated handout photo of Burger King's new reusable containers, which the firm says will help cut down on packaging waste. Burger King/Handout via REUTERS

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Call it Whopper deja vu. Burger King will begin testing reusable containers next year to reduce waste from sandwich and soda packaging, the burger brand said on Thursday.

The chain, a unit of Restaurant Brands International QSR.TO, hopes customers will ask for their food to come in the reusable packages, pay a deposit, and get the money back after they scan used soda cups and burger boxes through an app before returning them.

Burger King worked with waste management firm TerraCycle Inc’s Loop unit on a so-called closed-loop system that creates no waste because special packages are repeatedly cleaned and re-used. Materials used to make the packaging have not been finalized.

The pilot program will launch in the second half of 2021 in some Burger King restaurants in New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Tokyo initially.

Restaurant chains have been experimenting with reusable and recyclable materials in response to environmental concerns.

Starbucks Corp SBUX.O and McDonald's Corp MCD.N co-founded the NextGen Consortium in 2018 to address single-use food packaging, including a competition to design new cups, lids and straws that are more compostable, recyclable and reusable.

Its aim is to eventually scale up to mass use of such cups.

Burger King said in a statement that its reusable containers would be cleaned with Loop’s “state of the art” cleaning systems that are aligned with its own “rigorous safety procedures around cleanliness and hygiene, all of which have become even more pressing during the current pandemic.”

Loop’s website does not specify what products and processes are used to clean its reusable containers.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Richard Chang

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