We are taking action on climate and transforming our food systems to be more resilient for the future ahead.
Reducing emissions and adapting to climate change is critical to the success of the McDonald’s System. We work toward our climate action ambitions by focusing on reducing emissions in our restaurant operations, engaging suppliers to reduce emissions in supply chains, strengthening our business resilience and using our voice to advocate for collective transformation.
- We are working with our global beef and chicken suppliers and our dairy and cheese suppliers to commit to setting climate targets.
- We have signed deals, along with our North American Logistics Council (NALC), to purchase renewable energy and associated renewable energy certificates.
- As contracted renewable energy projects executed between 2019–2023 become operational, they are expected to contribute to a 33% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our global 2015 baseline.
Read our Purpose & Impact Report (PDF – 7 MB) for our progress in more detail.
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Natural disasters and extreme weather patterns pose significant risks to food supply resilience and to communities around the world, including those from which we operate and source. While acting on climate change is challenging and requires significant investment, it is critical to the strength of our business now and in the future.
We have a unique opportunity as a global brand to mobilize the entire McDonald’s System – the Company, Franchisees, suppliers and producers – to catalyze change. With these partners, we are helping to improve our restaurants and food systems and create a better future.
We have embedded our climate goals across our operations and are prioritizing actions in our most carbon-intensive areas, including restaurant energy, supply chain, and packaging and waste.
We continue to implement our strategy through:
- Measuring our energy impact using millions of climate tracking data points, sharing actionable data and benchmarking insights to inform development of our strategy.
- Collaborating to drive and advocate change by partnering with suppliers, Franchisees, industry, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and others on climate action initiatives.
- Implementing climate solutions in our supply chain through work with suppliers that strengthens regenerative agriculture practices to conserve our forests and reduce emissions.
- Accelerating circularity with packaging and waste strategy, which aims to reduce waste while reducing emissions across our operations and supply chain.
- Increasing energy efficiency in restaurants by designing and operating more sustainable restaurants, embracing practices that conserve energy, as well as increasing renewable energy use, with requirements set in our Global Restaurant Standards (GRS).
On this page, you’ll find out more about our strategy and impact reduction measures across our business.
In 2018, we committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to our restaurants and offices by 36% by the end of 2030 from a 2015 base year. We’re also targeting a 31% reduction in emissions intensity (per metric ton of food and packaging) across our supply chain. These science-based targets were approved by the SBTi in 2018, and we have continued to work toward them by collaborating with industries, governments, Franchisees, suppliers, consumers and local communities.
In 2021, we committed to adapting our climate targets to help keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C. We intend to share an update on our climate journey later in 2023.
Our Comprehensive Disclosure on Climate Action
- Climate Risk & Resiliency Summary 2021 (PDF – 3.82 MB)
- McDonald’s 2022 CDP Climate Change (PDF – 827 KB)
We hold ourselves accountable by measuring emissions data annually and partnering with experts to report our progress using the latest leading methodologies for data collection and analysis in alignment with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
We have an internal, enterprise-level climate tracking system that uses millions of data points to model the emissions from our sourcing, restaurants and operations. The climate tracking system is also a way to share actionable data and benchmarking insights with key internal audiences to inform strategy development. We will continue to evolve the system through annual improvements of data quality, climate accounting methodology, the latest external scientific insights and benchmarking capabilities, and can expect our baseline and annual progress figures to continue to adjust. The climate tracking system runs parallel with our supply chain sustainability reporting system, using common sources of information. We also utilize CDP Supply Chain information to better understand the actions of key suppliers on climate and forests.
We calculate land use change emissions, and they are integrated into our annual carbon footprint reports. To demonstrate the impact of factors such as land use change and carbon sequestration to our footprint and to ensure the resilience of our strategy, we are contributing to the development of globally relevant and accepted GHG accounting methods through various third-party coalitions.
Impacts of climate change threaten to disrupt agricultural food supply chains, affect infrastructure and pose real risks to vulnerable communities around the world. We are assessing climate risk and strengthening our collective resiliency as recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). In 2021, we released our first Climate Risk & Resiliency Summary. The report, which is aligned to the TCFD recommendations, contains more on our climate strategy and our governance and management approach for climate risks.
See our Business Resilience page for more detail.
We know that addressing climate change requires a collective effort across our global community. That is why we’re partnering with our suppliers, Franchisees, industry, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and others to take action.
Climate-Related Pledges, Groups and Memberships
Partnerships, including serving as a Leaders Circle of America Is All In (formerly We Are Still In), help us to contribute to climate action and advocate for climate policy. For example, McDonald’s is a member of the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA), collaborating with other energy buyers, energy providers and service providers to navigate the complexities of the energy market. McDonald’s also joined the WWF Climate Business Network to exchange ideas with peers on how to reduce emissions in line with our global climate targets.
McDonald’s meets with members of U.S. Congress and its staff to discuss important topics such as recycling, soil health and renewable energy. We believe public policy is a critical part of the solution and our advocacy work in Washington, D.C., is driven by our U.S. Environmental Sustainability Policy Principles.
We are members of the Ceres Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) network where, alongside more than 85 other organizations, we advocate for strong climate and clean energy policies in the U.S.
As members of the Gold Standard Value Chain Initiative – a not-for-profit established to ensure projects that reduced carbon emissions featured the highest levels of environmental integrity – we work with others to test new techniques of carbon accounting in the supply chain and deal with challenges around traceability.
Additionally, we participated in the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) FLAG project consultative group, which provided expert advice and direction for companies in land-intensive sections and aimed to ensure criteria for target-setting was clear and practical.
In 2022, we joined the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition. The coalition is a multi-company initiative to stop commodity-driven deforestation and address global climate change issues across the sector. Learn more on our Nature, Forests & Water page.
Together with our supplier partners, we share a commitment to take action to address climate change and drive continuous improvement.
Supplier-Led Climate Action
We expect all McDonald’s suppliers to set climate targets, measure emissions and achieve reductions – particularly in Scope 3 emissions – in line with their broader sustainability strategies. This expectation is communicated to suppliers by our sourcing teams and is assessed through CDP disclosures and other reporting feedback mechanisms. We regularly reinforce the importance of action during supplier webinars and reviews, and support suppliers with a Climate Action Toolkit.
Through our climate data and insights platform, we model the various impacts suppliers and sourcing categories have on our emissions. These insights allow us to target our work with suppliers on strategies that support our science-based targets and reduce our collective climate impact.
Nature-Based Climate Solutions
We believe in the power of sustainable agriculture practices to increase biodiversity, enrich soils and boost climate resilience. At McDonald’s we look to scale the adoption of regenerative agriculture principles to build more resilient supply chains, drive action against our climate goals, and help protect delicate ecosystems.
Keeping Our Transport and Logistics Impact Low
McDonald’s logistics network transports our food products across more than 250 million miles every year.
We have a twofold approach to working with our suppliers to achieve world-class logistics operations with the lowest possible environmental footprint:
- Using fewer miles and less fuel through continuous routing improvements, innovations like engineless cooling and air deflectors, and ongoing driver training.
- Increasing the use of alternative fuels with lower emissions, including renewable natural gas created from biowaste, biofuels, hydrogen, natural gas, propane and electricity. Where possible, these biofuels are generated from by-products rather than crops grown for food.
All of McDonald’s global and North American independent logistics suppliers have set science-based targets, approved by the SBTi.
In 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021, McDonald’s U.S. received a SmartWay Excellence Award for outstanding environmental performance and leadership from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
How our packaging and toys are designed, produced, transported, disposed, and recovered impacts the planet. Our packaging, toys, and waste strategy aims to accelerate a circular economy approach – reducing waste while also reducing emissions across our operations and supply chain.
Read more on our Packaging, Toys & Waste page.
As of the end of 2022, restaurant energy use represented 59% of our restaurant and operations baseline emissions footprint, and as such, represents a key focus area for accelerating progress against our 2030 targets.
With restaurants in over 100 markets across the world, we are working with our Franchisees on innovative solutions for creating and managing increasingly sustainable and efficient locations. This includes investing in areas such as renewable energy, LED lighting, energy-management systems and energy-efficient kitchen equipment. Across the globe, our markets are in various phases of strategy development and implementation. McDonald’s is also taking steps to procure and use renewable electricity.
Adding Renewable Energy to the Grid
One of the most effective and timely actions we can take to reduce our electricity-related emissions footprint is to invest in renewable energy to cover restaurant needs. We are increasingly looking for solutions to power more of our sites renewably.
Since 2019, McDonald’s has signed fourteen renewable energy projects through virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) and continues to be among other leading corporate renewable energy buyers in adding new, large-scale renewable energy to the U.S. grid. Our renewable energy projects cover both solar and wind technologies, and are planned to be located in Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Louisiana.
As the projects for which contracts were executed between 2019–2023 continue becoming operational over the next few years, the energy generated is expected to be the equivalent of more than 11,700 restaurants’ worth of electricity. They are expected to contribute to a 33% reduction in GHG emissions associated with U.S. restaurant electricity usage from our 2015 baseline. McDonald’s portion of these renewable energy projects is expected to help prevent approximately 3,500,000 metric tons of CO2e emissions annually.
While this represents the impact of our contracted projects, the landscape of the renewable energy industry continues to experience supply chain issues and other headwinds and we also recognize that the impact from some contracted projects in the portfolio could be replaced with other future projects.
We continue to monitor the progress of all projects to ensure they meet our selection criteria as we make progress toward our climate targets.
We are focused on designing and delivering as many resource-efficient restaurants as possible. This means minimizing our use of energy and water, and maximizing the use of renewable energy, wherever possible.
Our Global Restaurant Standards (GRS) include minimum requirements and recommendations across areas such as lighting, refrigeration and the energy efficiency of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as energy management.
To advance the overall sustainability of McDonald’s restaurants, we also employ a standard global guide for reducing GHG emissions across all new store openings as part of our continuous efforts to reduce energy consumption by sharing best practice. We are also building out a menu of sustainable décor options, which Franchisees can choose to adopt across all markets.
Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Points at Our Restaurants
Some of our markets are exploring ways to help our customers and employees reduce their own environmental impact. For example, to help our customers embrace more sustainable technologies, several markets around the world offer electric vehicle (EV) charging points at restaurant locations.