Environment & Sustainability

Being environmentally responsible is a key part of our business.

We have always strived to be an environmentally responsible business. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, we have the responsibility and opportunity to use our Scale for Good and take action on some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world today.

We embrace this opportunity to drive meaningful progress, and do so by collaborating with millions of customers, employees, franchisees, suppliers and other partners.

While we’re committed to taking on many challenges facing society today, we’re elevating a few global priorities where we believe we can make the greatest difference and drive industry-wide change. You can read more about our global commitments on our global Scale for Good website. 

As we work towards achieving these goals, we are proud that McDonald’s Australia has already made good progress against a number of these targets, which create shared value for our business and our communities.

You can read more about the progress we’re making in the McDonald’s Australia 2019 Scale for Good report.

But we know there’s lots more to do.

Keeping Australia tidy

Like you, we don’t like litter. To try to stop litter before it happens we support organisations like Clean up Australia (CUA).

McDonald’s is a founding partner and have partnered with CUA for the past 30 years since its inception in 1989.

McDonald’s has donated more than $5 million towards both sponsorship and clean up kits since the inception of Clean up Australia Day and this year we had more than 11,000 volunteers from our restaurants and offices participate in the day.

Managing Food Waste

McDonald’s first became a partner of Foodbank Australia in 2011. Since then, we have donated over 550,000kgs of edible goods from our distribution centres across Australia. In 2018 alone, we contributed over 100,000kgs of food, which equates to around 235,600 meals for Australians in need.

In 2019, we began trialling the conversion of our used coffee grounds into compost, which is being applied by one of our lettuce farmers. 

Making recycling easier

Recycling shouldn’t be a chore. That’s why we have made a commitment to recycle guest packaging in 100% of our restaurants by 2025.

Since 2018, we have installed recycling units in 35 restaurants, making it easier to separate your paper cups for recycling. Our paper cups are sent to specialist recycling centres in Australia, which make products from the fibre and plastic lining, including egg trays that go back in to our Supply Chain or car park wheel stops that are being trialled in our Spring Farm (NSW) restaurant.

Being smarter with deliveries

We’re trying to drive fewer kilometres and deliver to our restaurants in the most efficient way possible. We’re consolidating deliveries and implementing trials to use the trucks that deliver our food for reverse logistics initiatives, such as recycling. By better utilising these trucks, our overall impact is reduced.

All of our Distribution Centres have been converted to be more energy efficient, with new builds also containing large scale solar installations.

Rethinking our packaging

We realise that little changes to our packaging can make a big difference– in recent years we have removed the plastic lid from the McFlurry, reduced the weight of our Sundae Cups and reduced the amount of fibre used in our coffee cup design significantly. All these small changes have reduced the amount of plastic used and waste being sent to landfill.

Currently, 83% of our packaging is fibre based and 100% of that fibre based packaging comes from recycled, renewable or certified sources – a target we originally set for 2020. The paper and board we use is also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the programme for endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Since July 2018, McDonald’s has been working with Starbucks and Closed Loop Partners as a global founding partner of the NextGen Cup Challenge. Globally, McDonald’s has invested $5 million towards the project, which aims to discover a scalable, sustainable fibre to-go cup. Find out more about the challenge here.

McDonald’s also works with The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) on ways to reduce plastic packaging through innovative, sustainable solutions. For more information, please find our APCO Action Plan here.

Using less energy

All new McDonald’s restaurants are fully equipped with LED lights, from the kitchen to the car park, which uses 50% less energy than fluorescent lights.

Our new restaurants are built to use less power – from energy management systems that control our lights, heating and air conditioning, to energy-efficient kitchen equipment and motion sensitive lighting.

Globally, McDonald’s has made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 2030 (from a 2015 base year) by 36%.

Supporting beef sustainability

We believe well-managed beef production plays an important role in thriving food systems for people, animals and the planet. To this end, we approach beef sustainability holistically and consider our impact on the planet, the livelihoods of the people who produce our food, the communities in which they live and the well-being of the animals we rely on. 

We have committed a million dollars towards research projects to support continuous improvement in Australian sustainable beef production, including a partnership with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), which will see us jointly developing a pilot program to enable McDonald’s and other supply chains the ability to verify responsible sourcing of beef.

 We are also engaging with local farmers and industry, as well as selecting and showcasing McDonald’s Flagship Farmers, to help develop and share best practice. Further, we’re partnering with industry to trial and discover new practices.

Ditching plastic straws

We know plastic is a topic our customers are passionate about. So we have committed to removing our current plastic straws from our restaurants by the end of 2020. We’re currently trialling fibre straws in select restaurants around the country and this year, we will be implementing a ‘straw behind the counter’ policy nationwide to minimise plastic waste.