Fast food giant McDonald’s, which has been actively working on making the beef industry more sustainable, is moving forward with two new projects.
McDonald’s has long been working on projects to provide more sustainable beef for the millions of burgers it makes around the world each year. The company has set up projects to study the issue in Canada, Europe and Brazil.
Now, they are ready to move it into the United States.
The beef industry affects the environment in many different ways, including fossil fuel emissions, animal methane, effluent waste, consumption of water and use of land (including deforestation). McDonald’s and other large beef buyers have been addressing the issue in the last decade or more, with various approaches to reducing the impact.
McDonald’s focuses on five main areas:
For one of its sustainability projects, McDonald’s is partnering with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Located in Ardmore, Okla., the foundation has more than 320 people from 20 different countries who research solutions for agriculture issues.
McDonald’s, headquartered in Illinois, will team with the foundation to fund research on improving sustainability across the entire beef supply chain in the United States. As one of the biggest buyers of beef in the world, McDonald’s can have a big impact on other chains and beef suppliers.
For example, when the company went to cage-free eggs back in 2015, other fast food chains followed, including Wendy’s, Subway and Wal-Mart.
The company also has put $4.5 million into cattle-grazing practices that will reduce, and in some cases become net-negative, in its impact on the environment.
Part of the effort includes no longer cutting down forests to make way for larger cattle-grazing land, according to the company. McDonald’s will eliminate that practice from its supply chain by 2020.
All of this is a continuation of programs set in motion by McDonald’s the past decade.
McDonald’s formed the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef in 2011 with organizations and people around the world with a goal of finding ways to make the global beef supply chain more sustainable.
“McDonald’s is synonymous with burgers and as one of the largest producers of beef globally, we have the responsibility to help lead the industry toward better and more sustainable practices when it comes to beef,” the company said in report on its website.
Part of the organization’s efforts include speeding up innovation in the industry, finding ways to share best practices with suppliers around the world and pioneering new practices in the beef industry that lead to a more environmentally friendly industry.