McDonald’s to reduce emissions by a third under approved science-based targets

McDonald's has become the first global restaurant company to have an emissions reduction target approved by the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTI), as the fast food giant outlines plans to reduce carbon emissions by 150 million tonnes.

Working with suppliers, McDonald’s will target a 36% emissions reduction from global restaurants and offices by 2030, mapping against a 2015 baseline. The company has also committed to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity across its supply chain during the same timeframe.

Both targets have been approved by the SBTI – in partnership with CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF – which aligns McDonald’s to an emissions reduction needed to limit global warming to no more than a 2C increase, as envisioned by the Paris Agreement.

McDonald’s supply chain director Connor McVeigh said: “As a business with a presence up and down the country we take our environmental responsibilities incredibly seriously and work hard to reduce our impact on the environment.

“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made but there’s more work to do, which is what today’s announcement is all about.”

McDonald’s will prioritise carbon emissions from beef production, having commissioned a study last year which found that British beef farmers could reduce average emissions by 23%. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found that the livestock industry is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

All franchised and company-owned restaurants in the UK are 100% powered by renewable electricity, while 60% of modular new builds have onsite renewable systems installed. All new restaurants are fitted with control lighting, smart heating and air conditioning and energy-efficient kitchen equipment.

Biodiesel, partly-derived from cooking oil, has been used in McDonald’s fleets for seven years in the UK, with delivery trucks fully powered by the renewable fuel, which has a 40% blend of cooking oil. According to the company the biodiesel saves almost 7,000 tonnes of carbon annually. More than 4,500 tonnes of McDonald’s food waste is converted into renewable energy via anaerobic digestion.


The company had already announced that by 2025, 100% of its guest packaging will come from recycled, renewable or certified sources – the preference being Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified – while also aiming to recycle 100% of restaurant packaging. All restaurants serviced by Veolia, around 60% of McDonald’s UK estate, is currently operating at zero-waste to landfill.

McDonald’s is also working with British paper makers James Cropper and Veolia to create a recycling process for coffee cups. The company is also part of a coalition aiming to roll-out more than 400 recycling points across the UK, specifically for plastic-lined coffee cups.

Staff members carry out daily litter patrols around restaurants to help capture more waste. Employees walk around 150,000 miles each year on litter cleans.

Matt Mace

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