McDonald’s Journey to Mainstream Sustainability

McDonalds_Sustainability_Infographic.jpg

What’s new and different about our just released 2011 Sustainability Scorecard? Where is McDonald’s headed on our sustainability journey? The answer s to these questions start with the title you see on the front cover– “Sustainability Scorecard.” We’ve evolved from referring to our efforts under the term “Corporate Responsibility” to using “sustainability” as a way to define our holistic approach to creating shared value for our company and society.  

 

McDonald’s Journey to Mainstream Sustainability

by Community Manager ‎12-21-2011 02:34 PM - edited ‎10-04-2012 10:03 AM

What’s new and different about our just released 2011 Sustainability Scorecard? Where is McDonald’s headed on our sustainability journey? The answer s to these questions start with the title you see on the front cover– “Sustainability Scorecard.” We’ve evolved from referring to our efforts under the term “Corporate Responsibility” to using “sustainability” as a way to define our holistic approach to creating shared value for our company and society.  

 

McDonalds_Sustainability_Infographic.jpg

 

We’re also looking at how we measure progress – or in some cases, where there’s still more to do – in ever more tangible and impactful ways. Keeping our own “score” means gauging success based on how McDonald’s is moving forward together as an aligned global company – setting goals that matter to our stakeholders and maintaining a commitment to continuously improving our social and environmental performance in key focus areas. And at the end of the day, we all want to continue mainstreaming sustainability in our business operations and in the minds of our consumers.

 

I discussed McDonald’s ambition to “mainstream sustainability” at length with Marc Gunther, who posted a blog (LINK) on his impressions of our efforts today.  He put a question mark at the end of the title, “McDonald’s:   Mainstreaming Sustainability?”   I’m in tune with his “question” and here’s why:  the journey is full of immense challenges.

 

Consider the McDonald’s system – Over 33,000 restaurants in 119 different countries, 85% of which are owned and operated by 5600 independent franchisees. Along with those franchisees, we have 1.7 million employees and a host of direct and indirect suppliers who help us bring products from farm to front counter, serving to 64 million customers each day.

 

The “we” is a collective “we,” and together, we are making progress, but reaching the point of mainstreaming sustainability is a long and sometimes daunting endeavor. We are not there yet, but we’re committed to continuing the journey.

 

In my view, the sustainability movement is at a crossroads.  Traditionally, this movement has been more of a niche issue, driven more by small and elite set of influencers. That is not sustainability.   Rather, sustainability should be for the masses, a natural part of daily life, with products and services incorporating sustainable thinking, in a similar way to how we think about quality and functionality. 

 

When our leadership convened earlier this year to assess where we are and where we need to go with our efforts on CSR and sustainability, we saw that both our priority areas and relative impacts are quite similar to other companies, especially retailers. For example, virtually every company we benchmarked with had environmental pillars of waste, energy and sourcing.

 

So, we have to ask ourselves, “What is the unique value that McDonald’s can bring to the sustainability table?”  It is the aspiration to make sustainability mainstream.  Who else serves 64 million people a day?   What other company needs to garner the support and advocacy of 5600 independent owner-operators in the process of progressing against our sustainability goals. Who else can influence the food supply chain like we can? So, the very nature of who we are as a business makes this aspiration quite natural for McDonald’s.

 

Within our company, we are definitely changing and evolving our view of what it means to be a socially responsible company.  The old view is CSR.  It’s time to bid that view farewell.

 

We first framed our work under the CSR umbrella more than a decade ago. It has served us well, with notable progress and a genuine track record of doing the right thing related to our food, our people, and our impacts on the environment and the community, as well as the sustainability of our supply chain. However, the future is different. We need to continue building on a culture of doing the right thing, but we need to change the way we bring that to life. It’s always been about living our values, and I’m proud of that. Now we will transform to CSR-plus, and that is how we are defining “Sustainability” at McDonald’s. 

Sustainability for McDonald’s means we are going to use our size, scope and talent to make a positive difference for children, families and communities around the world.  We are going to focus on the intersection of who we are as a business and where we are as a society. And doing so will not only create value for society, but it will bring value to McDonald’s.  

 

Our 2011 Sustainability Scorecard has tangible examples of this new approach.   The bold announcements we made in 2011 related to nutrition and sustainable supply chain demonstrate where we are taking action, setting goals, and committed to measuring progress.  More of that to come.  

 

Let me know your thoughts on how we can do more to achieve our vision of McDonald’s mainstreaming sustainability. 

Bob Langert.jpg

Comments
by FarmToTable on ‎01-23-2012 10:34 AM

Thanks for this great insight into McDonald's sustainability initiatives.

 

I've just completed reading Force of Nature, the book that documents Wal-Mart's sustainability changes over the past decade. Large firms like your can really make a major difference and the word needs to be spread more broadly about your great efforts.

 

We have just launched a first-of-its kind show on national PBS called Farm To Table America. We want to talk to you about partnering with us on our great effort to raise awareness about eating responsibly and sustainably. Is there someone I can discuss this with further?

 

thanks and keep up the great work!! Laura Levy Shatkin...Laura@FarmtoTableAmerica.com

by npRecycling on ‎03-08-2012 09:51 AM

Hi we are working on a zero waste initiative with the EPA in the town of New Paltz. Can you give me some information on what your McDonald's in the Town of New Paltz, NY is doing to be sustainable?

 

by Community Manager on ‎05-11-2012 11:30 AM

Hi npRecycling,

 

Thanks for your question. Around the world, we are leveraging a number of different tactics such as cardboard recycling, used oil recycling and even composting in some areas to reduce waste in our restaurants. However, strategies do vary from place to place so your best bet is to reach out to the franchisee in New Paltz to get more information about that specific restaurant.

 

Thank you.

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About the Author

Bob_Langert

As Vice President of Sustainability, Bob contributes to the advancement of a wide range of social and environmental policies and programs. Bob has been a member of the McDonald’s System for more than 30 years, first working with one of our suppliers and then joining McDonald’s in 1983. Throughout the past three decades, Bob’s passion for creating shared value for society and our company through the integration of sustainability practices into the core of the business has been a key ingredient of McDonald’s continued progress along the “Road to Sustainability.”

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