Transporting Our Food

With over 37,000 restaurants around the world, McDonald’s logistics providers need to ensure that everything – from food and drink to packaging and toys – is delivered to the right place at the right time, with minimal environmental impact.

Why it matters

McDonald’s logistics network transports our food products more than 250 million miles every year. As well as ensuring thousands of products arrive at McDonald’s restaurants each day safely and in the best condition, our logistics providers are working to minimize the environmental footprint of our distribution activities by reducing the distances our products travel, moving toward alternative fuels and making product journeys as efficient as possible.

On this page:

Our approach | Our actions

Our approach

Our vision is to work with our suppliers to achieve world-class logistics operations with the lowest-possible environmental footprint. We have a twofold approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Using fewer miles and less fuel through continuous routing improvements, innovations like engine-less cooling and air deflectors, and ongoing trucker training.
  2. Increasing the use of alternative fuels with lower emissions.

In 2013, our logistics suppliers launched an efficient and sustainable logistics program covering 10 initiatives across distribution centers and fleets in Europe. These include:

  • Monitoring electricity consumption in warehouses and fleet fuel usage.
  • Optimizing network designs and routes.
  • Modifying vehicle specifications to improve fuel efficiency.
  • Expanding the use of alternative fuels.

Minimizing waste is another focus and our suppliers have a number of ongoing initiatives at distribution centers. Using available loading capacity, trucks in some countries “back-haul” waste from McDonald’s restaurants when returning to the distribution centers. This helps to recycle waste streams like cardboard, used cooking oil and some plastics, and reduces mileage in the process. Innovating in transportation thus goes hand in hand with how we’re eliminating waste from our kitchens and supply chains.

We encourage our logistics providers to set sustainability goals for their operations. They are responsible for tracking energy and fuel use, as well as the amount of materials recycled or sent to a landfill; they report this data to us on an annual basis. Our logistics operations support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically:

As well as these, we’ve mapped our Scale for Good initiatives to all 17 goals.

Our actions

Lower carbon deliveries

We encourage logistics providers to use the most carbon-efficient fuels for transport throughout our supply chain. This includes the use of alternative fuels, such as renewable natural gas created from biowaste, biofuels, hydrogen, natural gas, propane and electricity. Where possible, the biofuels McDonald’s uses are generated from by-products rather than crops grown for food.

HAVI, one of McDonald’s logistics suppliers, has announced a five-year joint plan with vehicle maker Scania in 2017 to improve its carbon footprint. It aims to significantly reduce the number of diesel-powered vehicles it uses, and convert around 70% of its fleet to alternative fuels in a number of European countries by 2021. The CO2 emissions created by deliveries to McDonald’s restaurants will be monitored in real time, and are expected to fall by 15 - 40%, depending on route, fuel used and traffic conditions.

In 2018 another logistics supplier, Martin Brower, has started using renewable natural gas in its delivery vehicles in the U.S. This fuel is up to 70% cleaner than diesel, and the world’s first commercially available transportation fuel made entirely from organic waste.

In 2017, the Company and our logistics providers became signatories to BSR’s Sustainable Fuel Buyers’ Principles, supporting growth in the market for low-carbon vehicles.

As part of their efforts to accelerate the decarbonization of the supply chain, our logistics providers also generate renewable electricity with solar panels in some of their distribution centers. In Belgium, a provider has installed a wind turbine.

Fueled by fries

In many countries, including the U.K., Switzerland, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), biodiesel which has been derived from used cooking oil of the McDonald’s restaurants is used by our logistics suppliers to fuel their delivery trucks.

In the U.K., 97% of McDonald’s restaurants recycle their cooking oil in this way (the remaining 1% recycle their oil for different uses), and around 50% of the U.K. fleet runs on biodiesel from our used cooking oil; the rest of the fleet uses biodiesel generated in other ways. Over 11,700 tonnes of Co2 emissions were saved from using biodiesel when compared to ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD). And that’s not all – the plant that converts the waste to oil also runs on energy generated from kitchen food waste, such as coffee grounds and eggshells.

In the UAE, McDonald's passed a major milestone in 2015 when its suppliers’ fleet of logistics trucks traveled 5 million kilometers running on 100% recycled vegetable oil from McDonald’s UAE outlets.


Freight performance award

In 2017, McDonald's U.S. received a 2017 SmartWay Excellence Award for outstanding environmental performance and leadership. The SmartWay Excellence Award, reserved for the top performing SmartWay partners, is the Environmental Protection Agency's highest recognition for demonstrating leadership in freight supply chain energy and environmental performance.

Our freight partners were recognized for achieving 98% of miles, or ton-miles, as SmartWay shipped, with strong performance in areas such as data reporting and validation, educational and collaborative work, and community links.

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