Behind those iconic golden arches, a commitment to sustainability

McDonald’s makes new commitments to sustainability. (© Mike Mozart/Flickr Creative Commons)

McDonald’s, one of the world’s largest food retailers, today unveiled two impressive goals in their global push toward 100 percent sustainability.

What’s on the menu? Making 100 percent of packaging from renewable, recycled or certified materials, and ensuring 100 percent of locations will participate in packaging recycling, by 2025.

With over 60 million daily users, McDonald’s is creating a massive new market for certified packaging. They’re also helping tackle a significant environmental problem that contributes to 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions: the way we make, consume and dispose of stuff.

With a commitment in all 37,000 of its restaurants in 100 countries, McDonald’s is setting a new global standard for food-related packaging and recycling. At a minimum, this step will engage billions of customers on the importance of conservation and behavior change. But the ripples will likely be greater, spurring packaging companies to change what they offer to retailers, and moving cities to ramp up their recycling efforts to keep pace.

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Conservation International has partnered with McDonald’s for more than 25 years. McDonald’s recently became a member of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a coalition launched by CI and Starbucks alongside 18 partners in 2015. The coalition now includes more than 90 international partners.

“When a company as well known as McDonald’s acts, the world changes,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “In total, about 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the way we make, consume and dispose of stuff. With its 37,000 restaurants in 100 countries, McDonald’s is both creating a huge new market for certified packaging and engaging over 60 million daily customers on the importance of caring for the planet. I applaud McDonald’s for its leadership in helping us reach a more sustainable future.”

“This is good for the planet and good for business.”

Sophie Bertazzo is a senior editor at Conservation International.

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