How Can McDonald’s Address Climate Change? You May Be Surprised

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By Keith Kenny, Vice President, Sustainability, McDonald’s

McDonald’s has worked for many years with the Rainforest Alliance on a variety of products and projects, including sustainably sourced Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee that we proudly serve in our restaurants in many countries around the world. Our global reach helps drive impact to scale in the coffee sector, but this is just one part of our commitment to sustainability.

In early March, I was visiting beef and soy farms in South America looking at the great work our suppliers are doing working in partnership with ranchers and farmers, NGOs and our Global Supply Chain and Sustainability teams. They are mapping our supply chains and supporting the communication of best practices to help meet our commitment to preserve forests and meet the deadlines of the New York Declaration on Forests, of which we and many of our suppliers are signatories. This work also helps with climate change, the most important environmental issue that we all must help to address. With 37,000 restaurants in 120 markets, serving 69 million people daily, McDonald’s impact can be part of the solution—and it’s up to us to use our scale for good.

Which is why we were pleased that on March 20, McDonald’s became the first restaurant company in the world to address global climate change by setting a greenhouse gas reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Partnering with our franchisees, we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 36 percent by 2030 from a 2015 base year. Also, by collaborating with our suppliers and farmers in our supply chain, we are aiming to reduce our emissions intensity by 31 percent across our supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels.

It’s ambitious and it’s meant to be. Reaching our target will require action on the largest segments of our carbon footprint: restaurant energy usage and sourcing, food production, and packaging and waste. While we have made progress in these areas, with our new target we are taking bigger and bolder actions to lessen our impact moving forward.

Through these actions, we expect to prevent 150 million metric tons of C02 equivalents (CO2e) from being released into the atmosphere by 2030, a goal that will allow McDonald’s to grow as a business without growing its emissions.

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Global supply chains are notoriously complex and we know we can’t do this alone. But McDonald’s aims to work with its suppliers to identify practical solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring them to scale, and to chart a path with our franchisees, supply chain, customers and the environment. We remain committed to partnering with groups such as Rainforest Alliance, Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 and Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef on shared goals and partnerships are an important part of our sustainability success across all our efforts.

We will continue to build on existing work on forests and agriculture, partnering and investing in programs that help produce our food without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. As mentioned, we are actively working to implement McDonald’s Commitment on Forests, which aims to protect forests across our supply chain, focusing on beef, chicken (including soy in feed), palm oil, coffee and the fiber used in customer packaging by 2020. As of 2016, 64 percent of our fiber-based packaging globally came from recycled or certified sources and by the end of 2018, all coffee from high deforestation risk regions will be sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Connecting with our customers to highlight the importance of sustainable sourcing is critical as well. That’s another benefit of our collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance. Many of our market teams, from Latin America to Europe and Australia use the Rainforest Alliance Certified “green frog seal” as a trusted indication of sustainability.

For us, sourcing our food responsibly has long been a priority. It’s important to our business, our customers, McDonald’s employees and the thousands of communities around the world we serve. There are many challenges on this journey, but I believe we are carving out a strong path towards advancing sustainable supply chains and building a better McDonald’s.

We launched our new corporate website in February, where you can find much more detailed information about all of these initiatives.

 

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