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CSRwire Member Spotlight: McDonald's Corporation

Submitted by: CSRwire

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Health & Wellness

Posted: Jul 01, 2009 – 06:00 AM EST

 

July 1, 2009 - Over a period of many years McDonald's has succeeded in building a CSR program that addresses a broad range of issues, from agricultural sustainability and ethics, to rainforest protection, to energy conservation, nutrition and well being, and more. For example, McDonald's teamed up with Dr. Temple Grandin to implement an animal welfare auditing program. This program has achieved over 3500 audits over the last ten years. The audits are systematized by a scorecard, developed by Dr. Grandin, pinpointing criteria of care and wellbeing for all chickens, cows and pigs that McDonald's uses.

The partnership with Dr. Grandin is of serious import to McDonald's VP of CSR, Bob Langert. "I am… proud," he writes in his blog, "of knowing one of the most influential change agents of this generation." Dr. Grandin's expertise is remarkable. Those interested in her work in animal welfare can consult her book on the issue: Animals Make Us Human: Creating The Best Life For Animals.

McDonald's interest in seeking out the partnership of experts in various fields pertaining to CSR does not stop there. Mr. Langert emphasizes the fact that McDonald's is always in pursuit of learning more-about "the environmental… and social issues impacting our business." For example, company leaders starting meeting with nutrition experts on a regular basis back in 2004 and formed a Global Advisory Council to help guide the company’s efforts in the area of nutrition and well-being.

For over 30 years, McDonald's has provided nutrition information to customers. Currently such information is provided in a variety of formats, such as tray liners, websites, brochures, via cell phones and on product packaging. Through such a variety of formats McDonald's can reach all types of consumers. The information provided doesn't merely cover ingredients. Caloric facts and suggestions for eating in a balanced manner are presented. "We're the only company I know doing that," says Mr. Langert.

What is particularly encouraging about the steps McDonald's is taking on nutrition and well-being is the outreach it demonstrates to children, who constitute a significant portion of McDonald's clientele. 31% of Happy Meals sold in the US market are now accompanied by milk or an apple, which Mr. Langert calls "a big advancement over 5 years". McDonald's France has implemented a holistic child outreach initiative that extends beyond the actual McDonald's restaurants. The company has limited its advertising to programs that are most likely to be seen by accompanying adults, as well as incorporated sports advocacy and general physical well-being into their message. Other countries have made commitments to responsible advertising - U.S., Canada and Australia. McDonald's also has a set of Global Children's Marketing Guidelines that unify the company around a common set of principles for responsible marketing to children. Some business units, such as McDonald's USA and McDonald's Canada, have signed self-regulatory responsible marketing pledges.

Mr. Langert is very clear about the seriousness of McDonalds' responsibilities to the globe. "We have a planet to protect," he says. And the implications of that responsibility cover a very large spectrum. McDonald's is proud to source from sustainable fisheries through a program co-developed with Conservation International. Currently 91% of McDonald's fish is sourced from fisheries with no unsatisfactory performance ratings. Mr. Langert calls the Sustainable Fisheries Program " a striking example of a program that is both good for the business and good for the world in which we operate. A real win-win.

Waste reduction and energy efficiency are also top priorities for McDonald's. Mr. Langert says energy expenditure constitutes the company’s "most important" environmental impact". In addition to ongoing energy efficiency initiatives, "green" restaurants have been completed in Chicago and several other cities that serve as "learning laboratories". These restaurants can be used to identify the best practices that make sense for the business that can potentially be scaled across the company.

In the area of waste reduction, McDonald's has been working for over twenty years to make its packaging more sustainable and is perpetually in pursuit of more efficient, environmentally sound packaging methods.

Re-using and recycling also play significant roles in McDonald's approach to waste reduction. McDonald's restaurants across the world are turning used cooking oil into bio-diesel. For example, roughly 80% of European restaurants, and about 50% of American restaurants are currently converting used cooking oil into biodiesel. It is through this recycling process that McDonald's United Kingdom gets the fuel for its distribution fleet.

Looking ahead, McDonald's is giving priority to the issue of its water footprint. "We need a much better understanding of our water footprint from a supply-chain perspective," says Mr. Langert. "Water is very precious."

It is hard to enumerate the sustainability impacts pertaining to a company of McDonald's size, and McDonald's has made rigorous efforts to keep its perspective on its global impact sufficiently broad. It has taken many steps to preserve the health and well being of the animals it sources, the children it feeds, and the communities whose resources it relies on.

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