Center Stage Podcast

How customer demand influences sustainability innovations

As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s has the opportunity to use its scale for good. It also has a unique responsibility to respond to a customer base that is demanding environmental action. 

"In every market, the biggest environmental concern of McDonald’s customers is the packaging that’s left over and thrown away," said Keith Kenny, vice president of sustainability at McDonald’s. 

To tackle widespread waste, McDonald’s leaned on its 25-year-partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to help the company improve packaging and reduce trash, both in-house and on products stamped with its brand logo.

"The announcement is a step change in using less packaging that is sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use," he said. "We’re working at our restaurants and beyond to encourage recycling in communities." 

The EDF helped McDonald's set two big goals: 100 percent of McDonald’s guest packaging will be from certified renewable resources, and all of its restaurants will recycle guest packaging — by 2025. 

"It’s a big stretch," Kenny said. "We’re in 37,000 communities in more than 100 countries with not a lot of time to get there."

But, said Tom Murray, vice president of EDF+ Business, "if you know how you're going to get there, you're not setting ambitious enough goals."

Kenny and Murray discussed the importance of educating consumers, using cutting-edge recycling technology and the power of business and nonprofit collaborations at GreenBiz 18. Watch a video of the entire discussion here.

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Technical direction for GreenBiz 350 by Stephanie May Joyce.

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