The international fast food chain McDonald’s announced that they will decrease their greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent by 2030, last week.
This effort will prevent 150 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere, according to a press release from the company. This is the equivalent of removing 32 million cars from the road, the press release said.
McDonald’s will begin using LED lighting, energy efficient kitchen equipment, sustainable packaging, restaurant recycling and engage in more sustainable agricultural practices, the press release said.
“Environmental progress doesn’t just happen, it takes bold leadership from all of us,” said Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund. “As one of the best-known brands on the planet, McDonald’s is well positioned to lead, and its ambitious new climate target will inspire innovation, collaboration and, most importantly, critical greenhouse gas reductions across the company’s global operations and supply chain.”
Justin Kaiser, UConn PIRG’s Zero Waste Campaign Coordinator, said this commitment is an “exciting development.”
“It’s amazing that McDonald’s is taking this initiative and this leadership position in this area,” Kaiser said.
McDonald’s Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer Francesca DeBiase said in a USA Today article that this initiative will not cost the company more than routine upgrades would.
Kaiser said he thinks the cost efficiency of the effort makes it more likely that other companies will follow McDonald’s lead.
“It just shows that this is a sustainable practice that other people can do,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser said he thinks the goal McDonald’s has set for itself is attainable.
“These are all things I think they can implement because there is the underlying infrastructure there for them to be able to implement them,” Kaiser said.
One of PIRG’s national campaigns is to work with companies in the beef industry, in which McDonald’s is the largest buyer, to stop their overuse of antibiotics. Kaiser said the problem with these antibiotics is that they can promote the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
“Starting there is the first step to removing that risk and making sure this doesn’t become a public health crisis,” Kaiser said.
In 2016, McDonald’s announced it had completed its transition to using antibiotic-free chicken.
“We definitely look forward to working with McDonald’s to continue implementing that,” Kaiser said. “I have no doubt that [they] have the public interest…in mind, especially with this initiative they just rolled out.”
Kaiser said that while large companies like McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts, which announced it would stop using Styrofoam cups last month, need to take responsibility for environmental sustainability, the general public also needs to maintain their consciousness.
“Individuals have a role to play in this as well,” Kaiser said. “No matter what cup a company sells, it’s always better to bring your own. (But) at the end of the day it’s still important for corporations to make the change because not everybody can do that.