McDonald’s has been dipping its toes into becoming more planet-friendly. First, the chain began testing reusable cups in the UK. Then it announced its McPlant burger and an idea for eco-friendly Happy Meal toys. Now, it has opened its first-ever net-zero emissions restaurant.
On December 10, the fast-food franchise opened its greenest restaurant yet in Shropshire, England. Powered by renewable energy, this restaurant is part of McDonald’s plan to reach net-zero emissions.
Net-zero means the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere are equivalent. Therefore, when a restaurant achieves net-zero, it isn’t adding more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. McDonald’s net-zero restaurant uses wind turbines and solar panels to create sustainable energy.
While McDonald’s still has a long way to go in achieving a business model that will benefit the planet, it’s saying this net-zero restaurant represents its green future. Here’s everything we know so far.
McDonald’s First Net-Zero Restaurant
According to a McDonald’s press release, the Shropshire restaurant is net-zero in both construction and day-to-day operation. It’s also a model for how the restaurant chain hopes to transform all 1,400 of its UK restaurants to net-zero.
The restaurant also includes a drive-thru lane made from recycled tires, which the restaurant chain says produces less carbon dioxide and absorbs more water to prevent rainwater from going down the drain. Then the building’s walls are insulated with British sheep’s wool, replacing unsustainable materials that would get sent to the landfill.
This green McDonald’s also features wall signs made from used coffee beans and curbs made from 182 recycled plastic bottles instead of concrete. This McDonald’s also creates habitats for local wildlife. It has a biodiversity garden and nature trail, designed by local students, that collects rainwater and creates an ecosystem for insects, frogs, and plant life.
McDonald’s Green Goals
In the UK and Ireland, McDonald’s has implemented plans to go green, including goals to use sustainably sourced food and close the loop on overall waste.
While the franchise abroad has goals to reach zero emissions by 2040, the McDonald’s Corporation hopes to achieve net-zero by 2050 for all global operations. In October, the McDonald’s Corporation joined the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, according to a press release.
Right now, most of McDonald’s eco-friendly changes—including its reusable cups trial and a widespread release of the McPlant burger—are happening in the UK. The McPlant burger is only available at select locations in the U.S., and an official national rollout has yet to be announced.
Being the fast-food giant McDonald’s is, making more climate-friendly efforts in the U.S. would likely inspire other fast-food chains to follow suit.
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