McDonald’s has announced that it wants to achieve zero net emissions worldwide by 2050.
McDonald’s, which currently operates around 1,400 restaurants in the UK, announced the opening of its first ‘net-zero’ restaurant in Shropshire, UK, in November 2021. This is part of its ambitious Plan for Change, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its restaurants, offices and supply chains in the UK and Ireland by 2040.
The new British restaurant will be the model for all new McDonald’s branches, supporting the company’s goal of revamping everything from beef in its burgers to furniture in restaurants. Several sustainability-focused improvements will be introduced in four key areas: the planet, people, restaurants and food.
The new model site will be stocked with plant-based vegan foods, and customer packaging will be compostable and made from renewable, recycled or certified sources. From 2023, all new furniture at McDonald’s locations will be made with recycled or certified materials and designed to be recycled or reused when no longer needed.
McDonald’s UK and Ireland has already made changes to improve its sustainability metrics, including using only renewable electricity in its restaurants, turning cooking oil into fuel for its delivery trucks, and implementing charging stations for electric vehicles. In addition, Happy Meals now only contain a soft toy, book or paper-based toy, removing over 3,000 tonnes of plastic from traffic. The company also recycles over a million Happy Meal toys to create children’s play areas across the UK.
Globally, McDonald’s wants to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The company’s announcement follows a similar pledge from Yum Brands (owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell), Chipotle, Domino’s, Restaurant Brands International (owner of Burger King and Popeyes) and Wendy’s, which also aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Bet on vegan foods and drinks to help achieve sustainability goals
McDonald’s is one of the biggest buyers of beef in the world. About 80% of its total emissions come from its supply chain, particularly from its use of beef, chicken, dairy and other proteins.
One of the biggest sustainability changes McDonald’s has made to date is the launch of its vegan burger McPlant. Developed in partnership with Beyond Meat, the new vegan burger was first tested in a few European countries, including Sweden, Denmark and Austria. Last month it landed in some locations in the UK and will make its way to all restaurants in the UK and Ireland in 2022.
McDonald’s plans to offer more plant-based vegan foods and drinks in the future. Earlier in 2021, the company announced that it has entered into a three-year partnership with Beyond Meat. Under the McPlant platform, it aims to develop plant-based chicken, pork and breakfast products, the specifics of which are all determined by pallets and local demands.
Globally, McDonald’s operates 37,000 restaurants in more than 120 countries and serves 60 million customers daily. While McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland has made the greatest strides in vegan menu updates, the chain’s North American stores have also tested plant-based options in recent years.