McDonald’s Counters Criticism With Green Marketing Effort

by | May 19, 2009


Fast-food giant McDonald’s is trying to show consumers its “greener” side with a new institutional marketing effort, “Global Best of Green.”

The full report details about 80 McDonald’s initiatives around the world, such as:

  • About 80 percent of packaging used by McDonald’s Europe comes from renewable resources.
  • In Canada, switching from bleached white napkins to plain brown has saved $1.3 million annually, while reducing energy, wood and water use.
  • U.S. restaurant locations recycle about 13,000 pounds of used cooking oil per year, on average.
  • Using a fryer that requires less oil allows restaurants to cook the same product with 40 percent less oil, saving 4 percent in energy over other fryer models.
  • U.S. locations completing an energy survey identify savings of $3,000-6,000. McDonald’s USA recognizes “Energy All-Stars,” or store managers that have provided examples for others.
  • In France, 10 restaurants that have committed themselves to interactive software, EcoProgress, have reduced electricity consumption 11 percent over a few months.
  • McDonald’s Mexico is testing solar hot water heaters in four locations to reduce the use of liquified petroleum gas, with a corresponding 2.7 percent decrease in monthly LP gas consumption and a 19 percent drop in carbon emissions.
  • McDonald’s Sweden is using CO2 detectors in 24 restaurants to adjust ventilation systems to the number of customers in the store, reducing electricity use 15 percent annually.
  • McDonald’s Europe is serving salads in cardboard bowls instead of plastic dishes, and wooden coffee stirrers instead of plastic.
  • In the U.S., decreasing the weight of polypropylene cold cups has decreased costs by 6 percent and saved nearly 1,000 tons of resin.
  • Various anti-littering marketing campaigns have been implemented in Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, Australia, Germany and other nations.
  • A variety of different waste and recycling bins have been tested in certain countries. A German model achieved a 90 percent recycling rate.
  • Restaurants in Switzerland feature a separate receptacle for organic waste, which is sold to Kompogas, which ferments the waste into biogas.

Despite its efforts, McDonald’s has been criticized for the waste it creates around the world.

In the UK, McDonald’s is responsible for 29 percent of all takeaway litter, according to The Mail.

Greenpeace has alleged that the Brazilian soya that McDonald’s feeds its chickens is responsible, in part, for the destruction of rain forest lands, according to Wikipedia.

Eric Schlosser’s 2001 book Fast Food Nation claimed that McDonald’s uses political influence to put profits before people’s health and the social conditions of its workers.

Back in 1990, London Greenpeace, which bears no connection to the international pressure group Greenpeace, distributed leaflets entitled “What’s wrong with McDonald’s?”, criticizing its environmental record, among other things. McDonald’s sued the group for libel, resulting in one of the longest-running civil cases in British history.

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