McDonald’s report outlines sustainability goals

March 10, 2011 | by Alicia Kelso

Turns out the famous LTO Shamrock Shakes aren’t the only green features being offered by McDonald’s. By 2015, McDonald’s will source only palm oil that is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

According to the Environmental Leader, the initiative is part of McDonald’s “Sustainable Land Management Commitment,” which aims to use food and packaging materials from sustainably managed sources.

This commitment focuses on palm oil, beef, poultry, coffee and packaging.

McDonald’s has already been working with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef for about two years in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases from its beef production.

The company developed a sustainable seafood program more than a decade ago.

For its packaging goals, McDonald’s is currently focusing on wood fiber material, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, for its sandwich wraps, fry boxes, takeout bags and trayliners.

Responsibility Report

McDonald’s recently released 2010 corporate responsibility report includes further details about the company’s achievements and ongoing objectives.

The report’s data is derived from an internal global scorecard tool called the “Eco-Filter,” which has quantified some of McDonald’s green efforts. For example, in 2009 in France, the company rolled out a frappe cup and lid made with 40 percent recycled plastic. This launch reduced the amount of virgin resin needed by 123 metric tons per year, and the amount of landfill waste by an equivalent amount.

Also, McDonald’s USA has worked with HAVI Global Solutions to transition to a plastic material called Clarified Polypropylene (CPP) for McCafe beverage cups, achieving cost savings and delivering environmental benefits while maintaining performance and premium product image.

The CPP package uses 20 percent less material, which led to a cost reduction of 15 percent and generated 20 percent less solid waste. A systemwide adoption of these cups will be completed by the end of the first quarter.

Global Energy Leadership Board created

McDonald’s also has recently created a Global Energy Leadership Board, which includes representatives from all over the world. The group met in September to evaluate energy use, set goals and adopt conservation initiatives.

From this initial meeting, McDonald’s has developed more reliable metrics for six markets, primarily focusing on company-owned restaurants. These measurement capabilities have shown that the company’s energy use is steady despite increases in restaurant hours and the addition of more equipment and menu items.

LEED-ing the way

Another initiative McDonald’s has embraced is the incorporation of green elements into restaurant buildings. Existing standards are being enhanced, while several markets, including France, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Costa Rica and the U.S., plan to install performance tracking features to improve energy efficiency.

McDonald’s Europe is in the process of implementing a set of Green Building Guidelines for its remodeled and new restaurants.

In the U.S., McDonald’s has been a national member of the U.S. Green Building Council since 2007, which utilizes the LEED rating system to assure maximum efficiency. The company’s global headquarters in Illinois earned LEED platinum certification in 2009. The platinum seal is one of the most prestigious green building awards, and exists in less than 250 buildings in the country.

McDonald's also recently opening its fourth LEED gold certified restaurant in Riverside, Calif. — its first green restaurant in the west. To recognize the efforts, the restaurant's iconic Golden Arches have been turned green. Other LEED certified McDonald's units are located in Cary, N.C., Savannah, Ga. and Chicago.

Goals for 2011-2013

McDonald’s short-term sustainability goals for 2011-2013 include:

  • Set goals and make tangible progress for priority products as identified in the Sustainable Land Management Commitment;
  • Reduce environmental impacts of direct suppliers by continuing to utilize the Supplier Environmental Scorecard as a continuous improvement tool;
  • Work with other stakeholders on next actions resulting from the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef
  • Increase adoption of energy efficient equipment and technology in restaurants;
  • Improve tracking of restaurant energy consumption data;
  • Increase energy awareness and education across the business to continue to realize savings to the bottom line and benefits to the environment.

Topics: Equipment & Supplies , Food & Beverage , Going Green , International , Operations Management , Packaging , Restaurant Design / Layout , Sustainability

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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