Reusing air conditioning condensation to water plants and clean. Repurposing advertising banners into fashionable tote bags. Recycling used cooking oil to power generators at a hospital. Today, McDonald’s Corp. celebrates these and dozens more examples of passion and innovation in the 2012 Global Best of Green report.

Best of Green is a collection of best practices that focus on the environment and provide tangible positive impact for the company’s business and brand. The report illustrates progress in eight categories: energy, packaging, anti-littering, recycling, logistics, communications, green building, and greening the workplace.

“Our commitment to environmental sustainability truly comes to life in our restaurants,” says Jeff Stratton, McDonald’s chief restaurant officer. “By implementing these solutions, McDonald’s demonstrates its commitment to building a better business through effective environmental practices around the world.”

“I’m proud of the progress in all these areas, and I’m especially excited to see the number of impactful advancements in energy/carbon reduction and green building–two of our key planet priorities,” says Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president of sustainability.

2012 Best of Green includes more than 20 energy-efficiency initiatives, including carbon-reduction practices, and green building advancements in more than a dozen markets around the world.

In the U.S., for example, McDonald’s USA has made a national commitment to match 30 percent of its electricity use at company-owned restaurants in 2012 with renewable energy credits from U.S. wind sources. Renewable energy credits help fund the development of new renewable energy resources to increase the amount of available clean energy for everyone.

Other report highlights include:

  • A maintenance technician at a McDonald’s restaurant in Brazil suggested re-using condensation generated by the air conditioning unit. The resulting collection, storage, and re-use system provided water for plants and cleaning external areas, and reduced daily water consumption 15 percent.
  • Restaurant crew at McDonald’s restaurants in the U.K. created new environmental best practices, leading to key changes including a 20 percent increase in cardboard recycling.
  • McDonald’s focus on sustainable meetings is illustrated by actions at the 2011 gathering of 16,000 U.S. owner-operators, restaurant managers, staff, and suppliers. More than half the waste stream was diverted and 1.35 tons of waste kept out of the landfill through soap/amenity recycling. Additional recycling initiatives kept more than 85 tons out of the landfill.


McDonald’s collaborated with key external stakeholders to recognize “best of the best” actions by selecting “Planet Champions” for each report category. The selection committee voted for projects and included representatives from BSR, Ceres, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and McDonald’s.

They made their selections based on the level of innovation, environmental and business impacts, scalability, and business integration. The 2012 McDonald’s Planet Champions are:

  • Energy: McDonald’s Europe’s innovative carbon footprint measurement “toolkit” sets the stage for identifying future carbon reduction opportunities
  • Packaging: McDonald’s Canada’s switch to unbleached napkins and bags leads to positive environmental, customer, and cost savings impacts
  • Anti-Littering: Through a focus on litter reduction for more than 20 years, McDonald’s Australia works to establish a leadership position by engaging its restaurant employees, staff, and customers to control the impacts of litter around restaurants in Australia
  • Recycling and Waste Reduction: McDonald’s Austria achieves a 95 percent recycling rate in its restaurants with the McRecycle program
  • Logistics: McDonald’s entire fleet of supply trucks in the UAE currently run on 100 percent biodiesel, made from vegetable oil recycled from McDonald’s restaurants
  • Communications: For McDonald’s restaurant employees in Spain, environmental training is a core element of orientation and training
  • Greening the Restaurants: McDonald’s USA plans to build 25 additional LEED-certified restaurants by 2015 through its participation in the LEED Volume Program
  • Greening the Restaurants: The first green restaurant in Pilar, Argentina, built by Arcos Dorados, McDonald’s development licensee in Latin America, becomes the first new building in the country to receive LEED Gold for New Construction certification
  • Greening the Workplace: McDonald’s Japan helps nearly 5,500 of its crew members achieve a 15 percent reduction in their power usage from July through September 2011


“These actions are important,” says Ryan Schuchard, manager of climate and energy, BSR. “The environmental progress from the U.S. market’s energy-saving commitment alone is meaningful, and it provides good examples of initiatives that could have a huge impact if scaled throughout the McDonald’s system globally.”

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