McDonald’s continues its self-improvement kick, vows to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Illustration for article titled McDonald’s continues its self-improvement kick, vows to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Photo: Richard Levine (Corbis via Getty Images)

If I was a housewife, and McDonald’s was my husband, I’d be checking for lipstick on the collar right about now. Would not be surprised to find a red convertible in my driveway alongside my station wagon. Would probably have my nostrils permeated with the smell of Brut aftershave, and would be receiving many evening phone calls about “working late at the office.”


Yes, the giant burger conglomerate appears to be in the midst of some sort of midlife crisis, based on its many recent upgrades. Trimming down Happy Meals. Adding high-tech kiosks. Replacing frozen burgers with fresh. You have to ask yourself, when McDonald’s looks in the mirror, does it like what it sees?

Hey, for whatever reason, if it means good things for the planet, we’re all for it. Fast-food enterprises aren’t exactly known for their environmental efforts, especially since so many of theme are focused around beef, which is a major hazard to the ozone layer due to methane emissions from cow farming. Which is why it comes as a bit of a surprise today that Fortune and other outlets are reporting that “McDonald’s has announced its first targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, claiming it will ‘prevent 150 million metric tons of emissions by 2030.’ That’s a 36 percent reduction compared with the restaurant chain’s 2015 emissions.”

Since the planet is basically melting, that’s great news. But how? Fortune says McDonald’s plans to “switch its franchises’ outlets to LED lighting, make their kitchen equipment more energy-efficient, and step up its sustainable packaging and recycling efforts.” It will also “prioritize action” on beef production, which could set an example encouraging other beef-focused companies to do the same.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook stated, “To create a better future for our planet, we must all get involved. McDonald’s is doing its part by setting this ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address the challenge of global climate change… To meet this goal, we will source our food responsibly, promote renewable energy and use it efficiently, and reduce waste and increase recycling.” Fortune notes that “McDonald’s plan has been approved under the Science Based Target Initiative, which was set up to help companies set goals to support the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

The announcement is unsurprisingly being met with accolades by various scientific and environmental groups, another new look for the Golden Arches.


Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.


Burners Baby Burners: Discussion Inferno

Great, fantastic, hooray for responsibility. Now, will this make me go the McDonald’s more often? No. What will?


Why is this such a complicated thing for them to figure out? Their solutions are usually gimmicks and more menu items, and they rarely fix the problem for long. You know why there are drive thru lines up the block for In-n-Out and Chick-fil-a? It’s not the 3 syllable names, it’s that each focuses on doing a small number of things right, starting with quality and taste. They don’t have huge, complex menus covering up a greasy, wet, bitter cardboard burger at the center, they get one thing right and people flock there.

Better to do 3 things right than 30 things wrong.