LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 3 (UPI) -- The company that owns fast-food restaurants KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut announced Friday it plans to refrain from using palm oil obtained through deforestation.
Yum! Brands said by the end of 2017, it will "source 100 percent of its palm oil for cooking oil from responsible and sustainable sources."
The expansion of oil palm plantations has been blamed for driving rainforest destruction, particularly in Indonesian Boreo.
A study by scientists in 2012 found deforestation for the development of palm plantations is causing a globally significant increase of carbon dioxide emissions.
Plantation expansion is projected to contribute more than 615 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020, an amount greater than all of Canada's current fossil fuel emissions, the researchers said.
Indonesia's tropical forest area is the third largest in the world, but Indonesia is also one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gasses because of rapid loss of carbon-rich forests and peatlands, they said
Deforestation is also to blame for habitat degradation, pushing many species, like the orangutan toward extinction.
About 50 million tons of palm oil is produced annually, comprising 30 percent of the world's vegetable oil.
The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released a report ranking fast-food companies on their use of sustainable palm oil. The report was released prior to Yum! Brands' announcement.
In 2015, Dunkin' Brands ranked No. 1 with a score of 70, showing a strong commitment and Subway was No. 2 with a score of 38, showing some commitment. Yum! Brands was last with a score of zero showing no commitment.