Business Spotlight: Reducing Emissions—McDonald’s is “Lovin’ It”

For most adults in America today, McDonald’s has been a part of their life in one way or another for as long as they can remember.

So when a company with a cultural impact of that magnitude sets Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) goals to reduce emissions, it has a real impact—when you operate 37,000 restaurants in 120 markets around the world, serving 69 million people each day, every change makes a big difference. This is true not only in terms of their own achievements, but in terms of modeling for other companies and raising awareness among consumers.

And it isn’t just talk; clearly, McDonald’s is taking action. The company’s approach is based on using the scale of their operations to leverage things like LED lighting, energy-efficient kitchen equipment, and sustainable agriculture practices to reduce their carbon footprint. Their sourcing for food and packaging is also a main component of their plan; in fact, McDonald’s reports that beef production, restaurant energy usage and sourcing, packaging, and waste combine to account for approximately 64 percent of McDonald’s global emissions.

They’re counting on that to pay off in a major way: In March, they announced a science-based goal to prevent 150 million metric tons of C02 equivalents for entering the atmosphere, which is like taking about 32 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year. The goal is to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from their restaurants and offices by 36 percent by 2030 from a 2015 base year, and reduce emissions intensity across its supply chain by 31 percent.

McDonald’s is famous for its franchising model that has made it a prominent part of seemingly every community across America. They have managed to bring all those franchisees—more than 14,000—together and get them on board for this plan, which is no small feat. Try getting 14 people to agree on anything, let alone 14,000!

While all of the recent news has been exciting, we should note that these goals have been on the company’s radar for some years now. McDonald’s has been a national member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) since 2007; their Home Office building In Oak Brook, Illinois, even earned the ENERGY STAR for superior energy performance. They also won an EPA Green Power Purchaser Award.

Last year, McDonald’s joined the We Are Still In coalition of U.S. businesses that have pledged to help meet the Paris Agreement emissions targets after the country withdrew from it.

Cheers to McDonald’s for their commitment to clean energy. Be sure to check out our posts on other American businesses pursuing clean energy, including Visa, Apple, Google, Target and Walmart, Jet Blue, and Bank of America.

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