McDonald's Cuts Waste, Focuses on Packaging

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In an interview with Daily Finance, McDonald’s VP of Corporate Social Respsonsibility Bob Langert says the restaurant is looking to step up its eco-cred as it tests 10 models of environmentally friendly restaurants in an effort to reduce its overall energy consumption and waste.

According to Langert, the restaurant spends $1.7 billion on energy around the world and another $1.3 million on processing its waste. Langert says possible solutions include trimming down its packaging and organic composting.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

"We have done a lot already in terms of improving our sustainability," CSR VP Bob Langert tells Daily Finance. "And we would like to have continued progress in our sustainable supply chain efforts." Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

“Reducing our packaging and figuring out ways to divert waste will be necessary and help our bottom line. We are also implementing an environmental score card with our suppliers,” Langert tells Daily Finance. “It’s the right thing to do, but its also business related. We see it as an efficiency measure that helps focus them on driving efficiencies and reducing their costs.”

When asked why the company has not adopted greener packaging that comes from renewable resources such as corn or potato starch-based products, Langert says the challenge of creating a sustainable package that will retain food quality is harder than some may think.

“Packaging serves convenience and portability. We’ve tested different biodegradable materials that warp or don’t retain heat, and they simply didn’t work,” Langert says. “We’ve been testing various products like this for the last 10 to 15 years without much success. We’re always open to trying new things, though.”

In some of its green design restaurants, composting is being implemented and tested. Noting that “most” of McDonald’s food waste is compostable, Langert added that even the company’s ” packaging is mostly paper-based and can be turned into compost. Turning waste into something that can be useful is our vision.”

The green design restaurants are currently being used as learning laboratories. A successful test model in Chicago has already reduced its water usage by 50 percent and cut its energy consumption by 25 percent.

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