McDonald's targets net-zero value chain globally by 2050
Fast-food giant McDonald's has set a 2050 global net-zero target covering operations and the supply chain, while its UK & Ireland business has set a more ambitious 2040 deadline.
The company told Reuters today (4 October) that it will work with the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to update its existing climate goals, which are aligned with the Paris Agreement’s less ambitious 2C pathway.
A major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 revealed the likely differences between a 2C world and a 1.5C world, in depth, for the first time. This has prompted a shift in the conversation, to the point that 1.5C alignment is now the best-practice standard. Indeed, the SBTi is currently working to make 1.5C the minimum target-setting requirement.
The IPCC report recommended that global net emissions are halved by 2030 and brought to net-zero by 2050, as a minimum, to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
Reuters is reporting that McDonald’s is set to develop targets to reduce emissions from its operations and supply chain by around one-third this decade, to support its long-term net-zero vision.
Under its previous climate targets, McDonald’s Corporation was targeting a 36% reduction in emissions from restaurants and offices by 2030, with 2015 as a baseline year. There were also aims to cut the emissions intensity of the business, per tonne of food and packaging produced, by 31% within the same timeframe.
UK & Ireland focus
McDonald’s UK & Ireland, meanwhile, has provided more in-depth information on 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.
There are also plans to offer customers more plant-based options in the coming years, building on the recent launch of the ‘McPlant’ burger, manufactured by Beyond Meat. The business will establish a new Nutrition Innovation Council, tasked with researching and developing plant-based options as well as options that are lower in salt, sugar, fat and calories.
McDonald’s UK & Ireland’s chief executive Paul Pomroy said the business’s new ‘Plan for Change’, in which the net-zero pathway is laid out, is a “business priority” rather than a “sustainability strategy”.
He said: “McDonald’s has a long history of taking action where it really matters to the communities we serve. But we are at a moment now where we need to accelerate our ambition and work even harder to look after each other and the planet.”
Competitor KFC UK & Ireland recently announced a 2040 net-zero target. Unlike McDonald's UK & Ireland, KFC UK & Ireland is a member of the Zero Carbon Forum, which was set up late last year to develop a pathway to net-zero for the UK’s hospitality sector. Other members include Burger King, Pizza Express and Nando's.