McDonald’s recently announced its commitment to go green through sustainable practices in the areas of beef, poultry, coffee, palm oil and packaging. The most well-known fast food chain in the world is planning to make a significant environmental impact with their new initiative, and set an excellent example of a green business making a difference.
Sustainable beef and poultry
Although eating a Big Mac or a McChicken isn’t the greenest thing anyone can do – especially considering the beef industry is a huge contributor to global warming – sometimes the fast-food snacks are too tempting to resist. To help decrease the environmental impact resulting from our eating habits, McDonald’s is no longer sourcing beef (or any raw material) from deforested areas in Brazil or the Amazon Biome, is sponsoring a program to investigate the CO2 emissions of 350 beef farms in the UK and Ireland in order to find ways to be greener, and is continuing to hold regional beef sustainability roundtables to follow up on the results of its 2010 Conference on Sustainable Beef, held in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund.
In addition to its efforts towards sustainable beef, McDonalds and its Poultry Sustainability Team have set out a three-year plan which includes extending a moratorium on Amazon Soya and pushing for more sustainable soy production (soy is the leading ingredient in chicken feed), as well as looking at ways to better manage waste management from chicken suppliers.
Certified McCafe coffee
McDonald’s coffee offerings have evolved significantly over the years, and now they are implementing sustainability rules to make their delicious blends green. First, they are engaging in education programs to teach farmers how to manage a more sustainable farm, and second, they are buying certified coffees (certified by organizations such as Rainforest Alliance or Utz Certified.
Sustainable Palm Oil for Deep Frying
It is one of the reasons why McDonald’s food is considered unhealthy, but also one of the reasons it tastes so good: deep frying. Whether it’s fries or chicken McNuggets, there is lots of oil being used at McDonald’s restaurants. That’s why McDonald’s is now supporting the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and pushing to have all of their suppliers become members of the organization by the end of 2011. The end-goal is to use only certified sustainable palm oil by 2015.
Sustainable wood fiber for packaging
Because wood fiber is the primary material used in McDonalds packaging, the restaurant chain is working towards purchasing the fiber from sources that have earned third-party certification, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This way, all of the sandwich wraps, fry boxes, paper bags and tray liners used in their restaurants will be greener.
Setting an Example for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The goals set out by McDonald’s and its Sustainable Land Management Commitment are a huge step forwards for the fast-food chain, and set the bar very high for its competitors. This effort should certainly be commended for making the business more accountable, and doing its best to be green and sustainable.