Environment & Sustainability

Being environmentally responsible is a key part of our business.

  • Our approach

    We have always strived to be an environmentally responsible business and we have made significant changes throughout the history of our operations as our understanding of environmental impacts has improved.

    We have an environmental sustainability framework in place to assist the business to define and deliver appropriate initiatives against these five major environmental themes:

    • Restaurant operations
    • Corporate operations
    • Sustainable supply
    • Advocacy and partnerships
    • Culture and communication

    For more information on any element of our environmental performance please download our McDonald's Australia Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (CR&S) Report 2012

    . To learn more about McDonald’s world wide commitment to sustainability please visit our global social responsibility website.


    Restaurant operations

    Our impact on the environment is most significant in our restaurant operations in the areas of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste generation. We continue to concentrate on these key areas in performance management and improvement targets, and we have a number of new initiatives and trials underway to help us meet our environmental goals.


    Energy use and greenhouse emissions

    In our operations, energy use accounts for the bulk of C02 emissions so our focus in this area is primarily on reducing electricity consumption. We participate in the federal government’s Energy Efficiencies Opportunities (EEO) Program and our EEO public report outlines our energy usage and identifies opportunities for improvement. We are also required to report our greenhouse gas emissions under the federal government’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act and the results for this are published online by the Department of Climate Change.

    2013 EEO Annual Public Report
    PDF - 0.5 Mb


    Water usage

    We have participated in the Sydney Water Every Drop Counts business program since 2001 and currently 194 restaurants in the Sydney Water Catchment are registered with the program. Participation in the program helps monitor water usage, identify opportunities for improved water management practices and helps implement water saving measures.

    Keeping the streets clean

    Our Clean Streets program includes initiatives designed to keep the area around our restaurants tidy and clean. The key to this is the Litter Patrol program which is a structured and regular task for crew members who pick up litter from within the restaurant grounds and in neighbouring streets.

    Within the Clean Streets program we also use packaging, restaurant traymats and car park signage to remind our customers not to litter.

    Corporate operations

    Our corporate operations need to set the example for our restaurants, and they do. Similar energy and water saving products are installed in the offices as those in place in the restaurants.

    These include rain water tanks, dual flush toilets, water restrictors on taps and sensor lighting in the car parks.

    Sustainable supply

    Our responsibility to the environment spans the entire life cycle of our products. It starts with the fresh ingredients at the farm and the design of our food packaging, and extends through food manufacture, customers and waste disposal.

    Our environmental guidelines for suppliers are:

    • Maximise water use efficiencies and eliminate the release of wastes and by-products into the environment via water;
    • Minimise the release of harmful by-products into the atmosphere;
    • Maximise energy use efficiency and use ecologically sustainable renewable sources when feasible;
    • Minimise waste production, maximise recycling, and ensure proper handling and disposal of solid waste;
    • Maintain soil health by controlling erosion and improving the structure and fertility;
    • Preserve natural habitats for native species and protection of biodiversity; and
    • Minimise the use of chemical pest management inputs that impact human, animal, and environmental health.

    We use a scorecard to measure supplier environmental performance for water, waste, energy and emissions related to the manufacture of McDonald’s products. Reporting is conducted quarterly and annually and significant improvements have been tracked by many of our suppliers.

    When it comes to packaging and waste we are continuing to explore options to decrease our environmental impact. Our first priority is to reduce the resources and materials being used wherever possible. We are a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant which commits participants to a national recycling target of 65 per cent for packaging and no further increases in packaging waste to landfill. Our action plan can be downloaded through this link.

    Our annual report can be downloaded here.

    Advocacy and partnerships

    More and more we are working with experts, environmental organisations and government agencies to learn from them, offer our support and build cooperative relationships.

    In 2010 we signed up to the Sustainability Advantage program run by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water to assist us in improving our sustainability initiatives. Other relationships include those in place with Sydney Water, the National Packaging Covenant, and the Australian Government through the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism’s Energy Efficiency Opportunities Program and the Department of Climate Change’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act.

    In addition we have offered our support to the following organisations and initiatives over several years:

    Culture and communication

    A focus on the environment is part of our culture and affects the decisions we make every day. Continuous improvement is also an important part of Macca’s overall business culture and this attitude also directs our journey towards environmental sustainability.

    We have numerous communication channels in place to inform our people of environmental initiatives and encourage participation in events such as Clean Up Australia Day and Earth Hour.

  • We are always looking for opportunities to improve the sustainability of our business.

    New products and practices are being trialed and launched all the time to help minimise the impact of our operations on the environment. In our restaurants, small changes can make a big difference.

    Reducing energy use

    • In 2012 McDonald’s proudly opened Australia’s first Green Star accredited restaurant at Kilsyth in Victoria. The Kilsyth restaurant features many sustainable initiatives including energy efficient lighting and air conditioning, solar panels, rainwater harvesting and the use of recycled concrete and steel. Several of these initiatives are now a part of our standard building design.
    • A range of external restaurant signage now utilises energy efficient LED technology rather than the standard 240V fluorescent lamps resulting in energy savings of between 50 and 70 per cent per sign.
    • Where restaurant design and existing lighting systems allow we are installing lux level sensors attached to the dimmer system to control the dining room lighting. The sensors determine the levels of natural light available and adjust the internal lighting accordingly.
    • Many restaurants are now using the waste heat from the kitchen air conditioning system or absorbing heat from the ambient air to heat their hot water – reducing overall energy consumption by up to 7%.

    Recycling and reducing waste

    • Most restaurants currently recycle cardboard packaging and used cooking oil.
    • A new solid waste management strategy is currently being developed. The strategy will be designed to divert waste from landfill, reduce materials used, increase recycling and create cost savings.
    • A recycling trial at our Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta North restaurants commenced in September. Organic waste is separated in the kitchen and sent to Earth Power. All remaining waste including general waste from the dining room is collected as co-mingled waste. The recyclable components are separated at our waste service provider’s alternative waste treatment facility (AWT).
    • Compactor trials are currently underway at our Thornleigh and Parramatta North restaurants to reduce waste volumes and collections.

    Reducing water use

    Some of the ways in which we have been able to reduce our water usage include:

    • Rainwater tanks are standard for all new freestanding restaurants. Rainwater is collected for use in irrigation and toilet flushing. 
    • Time flow taps are used in all new and re-modelled restaurants. These feature a reduced flow rate and auto flow shut off after seven seconds which saves approximately 100 to 200 litres of water per day.
    • All new and remodelled restaurants use water efficient tapware and sanitaryware including time flow taps and dual flush toilets;
    • Water efficient spray guns used for washing up in the kitchen reduce water usage by approximately 60 per cent compared to previous spray guns;
    • New landscape design guidelines encourage the planting of native and drought resistant plants and utilise advanced stormwater retention methods.

    For more detail about our performance in these areas please see the McDonald's Australia Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (CR&S) Report 2012.