Conservation Group Has No Beef with McDonald’s Sustainability Plan

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March 16, 2011; Source: Fast Company | It’s too early to tell if a plan to adhere to more sustainable business practices will win McDonald’s more customers, but it’s sure to earn the fast-food giant two thumbs up from the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund. In fact, according to Fast Company, changes being implemented result from a partnership with the animal conservation group.

The magazine reports that the company “invited in the nonprofit for an unfettered look at what McDonald's buys, how much it purchases, and who it buys from” to determine what kinds of improvements to make to its supply chain. Based on WWF’s work, McDonald’s has recently pledged to only buy agricultural raw materials and packaging from companies that ensure their products come from sustainable sources.

Initially, McDonald’s is focusing on purchases of beef, poultry, coffee, palm oil, and packaging. Beef is a big priority because of a carbon footprint analysis that found the main ingredient for the chain’s ubiquitous hamburgers “has its fair share of impacts on the world,” said Bob Langert, VP of Corporate Responsibility at McDonald's. Fast Company reports that among the company’s goals is to develop a program to trace and certify sustainable beef in the Amazon to make sure that no beef from deforested areas is used.

While the company still has much to do to implement the WWF-influenced recommendations, Fast Company notes, “whenever a gigantic corporation like McDonald's shifts its food policies in the right direction, attention must be paid.”—Bruce Trachtenberg