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McDonald’s, Starbucks sign onto climate change initiative

Chains among 81 companies participating in the American Business Act on Climate Pledge

McDonald’s Corp. and Starbucks Corp. are part of a large group of U.S. companies that have signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, the Obama administration said Monday.

The 81 businesses that signed the pledge include a who’s-who of American companies, including Coca Cola, Target, IBM, Facebook and Google. McDonald’s and Starbucks are perhaps the two most recognizable names in the restaurant business.

The companies vowed to make changes to their supply chains and to reduce energy use inside their restaurants as part of the initiative. They also vowed to support an agreement on climate change at the upcoming United Nations conference on climate change in Paris starting in November.

The pledge also comes amid growing concern about sustainability at U.S. restaurants by consumers who appear to be gravitating towards concepts like Chipotle Mexican Grill that have made sustainability a key part of their messaging.

McDonald’s, which owned Chipotle until 2006, has been working to reinvigorate its brand image following three years of sales weakness. That image includes efforts on sustainability.

“We all have a responsibility to re-evaluate the way we live, work and treat the planet,” Francesca DeBaise, McDonald’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer, wrote in a post on the website Medium. “Given McDonald’s reach, we are eager to add to this important dialogue and create solutions that will address climate change.”

McDonald’s pledge includes work on its beef supply, an important consideration for a chain that sells billions of hamburgers. The company said it would start buying a portion of beef from verified, sustainable sources beginning next year. The company has already started working with other companies on criteria for sustainable beef production as one of the founders of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

In addition, McDonald’s plans to set targets for ensuring that its supply of packaging, palm oil, coffee and other products are “deforestation free,” meaning the suppliers don’t impact the rainforest. The company has set a goal to use all fiber-based packaging, as well as sustainable palm oil and coffee, by 2020.

The company also plans to increase energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020, and it plans to minimize waste and increase recycling 50 percent by that year.

Starbucks, meanwhile, plans to build all of its locations to achieve LEED certification, and reduce energy and water use by 25 percent. It also plans to purchase renewable energy equal to 100 percent of the electricity used in its stores and source all of its coffee through sources that meet certain ethical guidelines.

The Seattle-based coffee giant plans to invest $50 million by 2020 towards a “Global Farmer Fund” that promotes coffee supply chain resilience and provides low interest loans for farmers to invest in sustainable infrastructure.

President Obama has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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