Burger King to Trial Meat-Free Impossible Whopper
Burger King is helping to bring meatless meat into the mainstream.
On Monday, the fast-food chain announced that it would begin testing the Impossible Whopper in 59 locations in St. Louis. The move is a partnership with Impossible Foods, a California-based company that uses a genetically-modified yeast to make its plant-based burgers taste and bleed like meat.
"We wanted to make sure we had something that lived up to the expectations of the Whopper," Burger King's North America President Christopher Finazzo told Reuters. "We've done sort of a blind taste test with our franchisees, with people in the office, with my partners on the executive team, and virtually nobody can tell the difference."
In an April Fools' themed video, the fast-food chain shows customers eating the burgers and being surprised to discover that they are not made of meat.
The Impossible Taste Test | Impossible Whopper
Former Stanford University Prof. Pat Brown started Impossible Foods in 2011. A vegan, Brown told The New York Times that he wanted to decrease the demand for meat for ethical and environmental reasons, but he thought that in order to do so, he had to create a product that meat-lovers would still enjoy.
"Our whole focus is on making products that deliver everything that meat lovers care about," he told The New York Times.
His company's secret ingredient is a protein called heme that it believes is responsible for that unique meat flavor. Impossible grows it from soybean roots and mass-produces it with yeast, then mixes it with vegetable products.
Impossible meats are now sold at 6,000 U.S. restaurants, including White Castle and Fatburger. But if the Burger King test is successful, Brown told Reuters that number would more than double.
"Burger King represents a different scale," Impossible Foods COO and CFO David Lee told CNN.
The Impossible Whopper now costs $1 more than a beef one, but Lee suggested that could change.
"The only thing we need to be affordable and at scale versus the incumbent commodity business is time and size," he said.
While it is pricier, the Impossible Whopper is healthier than the meat original: it has slightly fewer calories, less cholesterol and no trans fats. It is also better for the environment. When compared on a per kilogram basis with meat burgers, Impossible Burgers require 87 percent less water and 96 percent less land while emitting 89 percent fewer greenhouse gasses and 92 percent less aquatic pollutants, according to a company-funded analysis.
However, the company has been criticized by some environmental groups for not conducting enough testing before marketing its products and by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for testing on rats, according to The New York Times.
Impossible isn't the only company hoping to popularize meatless meat. Beyond Meat announced in January that its meatless burgers would be available at Carl's Jr.
Burger King's Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Machado told The New York Times that he expected the Impossible Whopper to do well.
"I have high expectations that it's going to be big business, not just a niche product," he said.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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