A Recap of McDonald’s Environmental Commitments and Actions in 2018

December 21, 2018

As the year comes to an end, we’re reflecting on the work we’ve started that’ll help make 2019 a year of building a better McDonald’s and an even better tomorrow. 

More than ever, this year emphasized the importance of companies taking bold action on climate change and the environment. For us, that made 2018 a year of building a better McDonald’s.  As a global restaurant company, we feel it’s our unique opportunity and responsibility to set an example, and we’re proud of the commitments we’ve made that lead to enjoyment of the meals you know and love. From the smallest details to the biggest picture, we’re using our scale for good and to do our part. Every day we’re working with our franchisees and suppliers to meet our customers’ expectations and create new solutions across the industry to benefit the planet. Looking back, here is a recap of McDonald’s commitments and actions.

Starting in our restaurants… Our customers tell us that packaging and waste are their number one environmental concern. We’re listening and taking action to reduce our environmental footprint.

In January of this year, we announced two new packaging and recycling goals. By 2025, our goal is to recycle guest packaging in 100 percent of McDonald’s restaurants. We understand that recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary from city to city and country to country, but we plan to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change. We also made the decision that 100 percent of McDonald’s guest packaging would come from renewable, recycled or certified sources. Set against a 2025 target date, as well, we’re determined to keep progress moving forward.

To reach these goals, we’re excited to work with leading industry experts, local governments and environmental associations to help us improve our packaging and recycling practices and address infrastructure challenges. Our sustainable packaging journey started over 25 years ago working with the Environmental Defense Fund— and we’re continuing to embrace new ideas.

To further tap into using our global scale for good, we’re crowdsourcing creative solutions to some of our most interesting challenges. In 2018, we pledged $5 million dollars in partnership with Closed Loop Partners to help launch the NextGen Cup Challenge and Consortium, with hopes of creating a recyclable or compostable hold/ cold fiber cup to use in our restaurants around the world. We believe in investing in big ideas, and we recognize the potential for others to help bring those ideas to the forefront.

Scaling solutions a step further… We know that to be a global leader, we need to lead by example. When we moved our global headquarters to downtown Chicago earlier this year, we wanted to exemplify our goal of minimizing our global environmental footprint. Designed and built with industry visionaries including Sterling Bay and Gensler Chicago, the LEED-Platinum certified building reminds visitors how global change starts in our own backyard. Looking to further drive change, we opened our new headquarters to industry experts ahead of this year’s annual Greenbuild conference to facilitate conversations around how to scale sustainable design for use at companies the size of McDonald’s. And as the conference wrapped in November, we committed those conversations to action by becoming a founding member of the Chicago Renewable Energy Challenge, an initiative that invites local businesses and organizations to help accelerate the adoption of renewable energy across the city.

Big aspirations for the big picture… In March 2018, we became the first restaurant company in the world to set a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.  Using a 2015 base year, we’re partnering with franchisees to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 36% by 2030. By the same deadline, we also seek a 31 percent reduction in emissions intensity (per metric ton of food and packaging) across our supply chain, measuring from 2015. To put this in perspective, meeting these goals would lead to the equivalent of removing 32 million cars from the road for a year.

In order to reach this target, we are collaborating with thousands of franchisees, suppliers and producers to prioritize action on the largest segments of our carbon footprint: beef production, restaurant energy usage and sourcing, packaging and waste. These segments combined, account for approximately 64 percent of McDonald’s global emissions.

Overall… we’re proud of the commitments we set in 2018 on our journey to build a better McDonald’s. We look forward to keeping you updated with our actions and progress in 2019, as we keep the momentum going!