Can McDonald’s Help Slow Global Warming and Climate Change?

March 20, 2018 by Jon C. Ogg

Source: courtesy of McDonald's Corp.
Whether you refer to it as global warming or climate change, many companies and many people have been making news about their strategies for cleaner emissions and lower environmental impacts. Some companies have entire business models based on climate change and global warming. And some companies have made news announcements with plans that may or may not make a difference individually but may if included in the entirety.

One major U.S. company that just laid out its plans is McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD). The world’s top fast-food company announced on Tuesday that it plans to partner with franchisees and suppliers in a larger effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 36% by 2030. That reduction will be from a base year of 2015, and McDonald’s referred to this as a new strategy to address global climate change.

McDonald’s has committed to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity per metric ton of food and packaging throughout its supply chain. And McDonald’s says that its combined target has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.

McDonald’s expects to prevent 150 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere by 2030. According to their numbers, that’s the equivalent of taking 32 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year, or planting 3.8 billion trees and growing them for 10 years.

McDonald’s indicated in the release that it will work across its supply chain, its offices and its restaurants. Improvements will come from LED lights, energy efficient kitchen equipment, sustainable packaging and restaurant recycling. The company also will elevate and support sustainable agriculture practices.

The largest segments of the total carbon footprint tally up to 64% of its global emissions. The company identified these as beef production, restaurant energy usage and sourcing, packaging and waste.

Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s president and CEO, said of the initiative:

To create a better future for our planet, we must all get involved. McDonald’s is doing its part by setting this ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address the challenge of global climate change. To meet this goal, we will source our food responsibly, promote renewable energy and use it efficiently, and reduce waste and increase recycling.

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