McDonald’s joins Zero Carbon Forum as it builds towards net-zero emissions goal

Image: McDonald's UK & Ireland

The Zero Carbon Forum first launched in December 2020 to collectively develop a roadmap to net-zero for the UK’s hospitality sector.

The founding members of the Zero Carbon Forum are Nando’s, Pizza Hut Restaurants Revolution Bars, BrewDog, Fuller’s, Burger King, Pizza Express, Boparan, Shepherd Neame, Marston’s, Azzurri, Adnams, Greene King, KFC, M&B, Young’s, St Austell and The Restaurant Group, which owns brands including Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s.

McDonald’s UK & Ireland is the latest corporate to join the initiative, contributing to an existing net-zero target that is set last year.

Zero Carbon Forum’s founder Mark Chapman said: “With more than 1400 sites across the UK and Ireland, serving over 4 million customers each day, we are delighted to welcome McDonald’s UK and Ireland to the forum. Its expansive knowledge and learnings as a socially responsible multinational organisation will be invaluable to all our members as we continue to march onwards to reach net-zero.”

Last year, McDonald’s set a 2050 global net-zero target covering its operations and the supply chain, while its UK & Ireland business set the same target but with a 2040 deadline.

At the time, the company said it would work with the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to update its former climate goals, which were aligned with the Paris Agreement’s less ambitious 2C pathway.

McDonald’s UK & Ireland, has outlined how it plans to reach net-zero by 2040.

The firm has confirmed that a new restaurant, opening in Shropshire next month, will be delivered to a net-zero standard developed by the company. The standard covers embodied and operational carbon emissions. From 2022, McDonald’s UK & Ireland will apply the standard to all new-build locations.

A 2030 net-zero target has been set for the operational emissions of existing restaurants and offices. McDonald’s will likely need to explore retrofitting and carbon offsetting to meet this milestone; it has already switched to 100% renewable electricity.

As for the supply chain, there are new targets to ensure all soy for animal feed is deforestation-free by 2026; to develop a new sustainability scorecard for sourcing by 2023 and to expand regenerative agriculture efforts in the beef supply chain.

The company’s vice president for supply chain and brand trust Beth Hart said: “We are committed to achieving net zero emissions across our entire business and value chain by 2040, as part of our new sustainability framework Plan for Change. However, we know that this is a challenge the entire industry faces and that sharing best practice is paramount to ensure we all get there.

“Joining the Zero Carbon Forum signals our intent to take industry-leading steps in this space, share our learnings, and contribute to the wider effort to achieve net zero emissions to create real, positive change.”

McDonald’s is also working to improve the sustainability of its beef, while offering more meat-free alternatives. It is working with FAI Farms to explore regenerative principles to beef farming using adaptive multi-paddock grazing for beef cattle. Expected benefits include greater biodiversity and an increase in carbon storage and removal capabilities.

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