10 July 2008

A Super-Sized Effort

While there is definitely a discussion to be had about the role of  McDonald's (among other fast food companies) in the rising rates of childhood obesity, McDonald's seems to have taken some impressive strides when it comes to their sustainability efforts.  

You can read about their self-proclaimed Top 10 Green Laboratories here, but here are my favorites: 

Waste-to-Energy Pilot in the UK
In August 2007, McDonald’s UK began using refuse from its restaurants to heat local buildings. Eleven UK restaurants are participating in the pilot program and will be the first of their kind to send zero waste to landfill. Each restaurant will avoid sending approximately 100 tons of waste a year to landfills, and energy generated will provide heat for approximately 130 local buildings.

Sustainable coffee and teas
McDonald's Europe is buying Rainforest Alliance and Utz Kapeh certified coffee. McDonald’s Australia has recently announced a similar move to Rainforest Alliance certified coffees, and McDonald’s UK is adding Rainforest Alliance certified tea to their menu.  We continue working with all of our suppliers on sustainable supply issues.

Biodiesel from McDonald's used cooking oil.   Since July of 2007, McDonald’s UK has been implementing a plan to recycle all of its cooking oil into biodiesel fuel for its delivery trucks, replacing nearly six million liters of diesel fuel with used cooking oil. Other McDonald's markets are doing this as well, with more than 70% of McDonald’s recycled cooking oil in Europe being converted into biodiesel. Markets including the U.S. and Brazil further exploring this opportunity as well.

What do you think? 

Do you think McDonald's should focus on one or two initiatives and tackle them worldwide or do you think this localized approach is the way to go? 

Maybe you think no amount of effort to be sustainable should overshadow the issues surrounding the poor nutritional value of McDonald's products. 

Either way, it's an interesting discussion that I expect we'll hear more and more as increasing number of companies enter the race to be green. 



ElSanti said...

McDonald's, along with other large companies, is often wrongly accused of causing more harm than good.

Their sheer size and global reach place them in a unique position to drive impressive change for the betterment of society.

Whether it be through job creation, energy conservation, waste reduction, or educating the general public - McDonald's has incredible potential for making positive change while continuing to serve low-cost foods.

Anonymous said...

I am glad they are doing something. However, I don’t think this qualifies them as an ethical business. Big corporations are under a lot of pressure nowadays to “green up” their businesses (for good reason), so they pretty much have to clean up their act or their company will come under public scorn and falter. When they do they always make sure to do a lot of publicity around it so people will say “Oh, look how responsible they are.” They even have a name for it, it’s called greenwashing.

Although they are taking steps to “do their part,” Mickey D’s inherent use of factory farming hardly qualifies them as a green company, as the U.N. has identified the practice as a bigger contributor to global warming than all the cars on the road combined. And the billions of dollars they spend advertising to kids to try and get them hooked on horribly fattening, unhealthy food while childhood obesity and diabetes are at unprecedented levels is, I think, unconscionable. I know it’s business, but it doesn’t make it right.

So while I am, actually, truly glad to see they are trying to do something good, I still can’t exactly take my hat off to that funny clown Mr. Ronald.