As much as I love and hate McDonald’s restaurants I have to admit it’s not going away any time soon! Every day McDonald’s serves 2.5 million people in 1400 locations across Canada! Since we live in a fast-paced world it’s sometimes hard to find time to prepare a meal. So, we reward instant gratification with repeat business. It is what it is! But what are they doing to be environmentally friendly?
Why eating out is not environmentally friendly
One fast-food invention boosted sales and made instant gratification a reality for billions of people. So, unless something changes the drive-thru will forever contribute to single-use trash. I love the drive-thru and use it multiple times a day. Who doesn’t love crispy french fries, custom made coffee beverages and swirl cones? Invented over seventy years ago we gravitated to eating in the comfort of our own car!
A relationship between the drive-thru has grown with the production of plastic. After seven decades. scientists have crunched the numbers. They’ve learned the world has so far produced a total of 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic! The world suffers from too much garbage and our appetite for convenience!
We’ve built up these massive institutions like McDonald’s that rely on single-use containers and packaging. So, it’s not surprising that these food giants are slow to change into environmentally friendly businesses. The main problems are waste material that ends up in landfills and switching packages from recyclable containers to non-recyclable.
How Mcdonalds is working to be environmentally friendly
I decided to write after discovering McDonald’s restaurants are using post-consumer packaging. In a perfect world, a circular economy would manage our resource consumption. Yet, I realize now that recycling is falling apart across Canada!
McDonald’s is the largest Restaurant chain in the world! By 2025 their goal is to switch 100% of their packaging from virgin material to recycled, renewable certified materials. They’ve pledged to recycle packaging, creating a recycling infrastructure in each restaurant.
In 2018 they joined an alliance between Closed Loop Partners and Starbucks. The goal is to create a 100% recyclable or compostable disposable cup. They held the Next Generation Cup Challenge, which promised twelve cup solutions.
Fast food giants such as McDonald’s are starting to use packaging that will biodegrade. The restaurant is starting to change their ways. They’re beginning to lead by example, but there is still room for improvement!
The restaurant industry gives us food on a plate used by thousands of different people. We walk in, sit down, eat and leave. The plate is rinsed, washed, dried and repeat! However, the fast-food joints don’t operate the same way. When we sit down to eat a meal they provide us with the same single-use packaging as the drive-thru. That’s got to change!
Furthermore, children drive profits so I understand why fast food chains are enticing kids. However, the plastic toys have got to go. The toys are not only plastic, but they package the toys in little plastic bags too! It’s always one new toy fad to the next. These toys are good for the first ten minutes, then they lose interest. Eventually, as the kids get older the toy becomes landfill waste. Corporations like McDonald’s should stop selling these types of toys or switch to an environmentally friendly alternative.
There are countless petitions that are being signed every day to ban plastic straws. So Mcdonald’s introduced paper straws across 1361 locations. It’s great to see the company try. But, there’s been a backlash from customers since these straws dissolve and collapse. Paper is not the only alternative but most likely the cheapest one!
Corporate Responsibility and the government’s role in its success
There is so much trash that selling recyclables is becoming unfeasible. The mixed paper has decreased in the price of 110% and plastic bags are down 53% since 2017. China has banned foreign recyclables and foreign countries are picky. So now the government can only sell the highest quality recycling material.
Sorting recyclables and resorting again is costly. The costs of labor and the commodity crash has cost Canadian Taxpayers lots of money. So much, in fact, the Ontario government must either raise taxes or cut social programs. For this reason, we can’t rely on foreign countries to take our recyclable materials.
There are still plenty of other reasons why we shouldn’t rely on other countries. There is a lack of International Government transparency and often poor labor standards. This volatility is causing mass confusion in where the trash is going. We sell it to poorer countries who either incinerate it, place it in landfills or dump it into the Ocean.
A permanent solution?
There are opportunities for those entrepreneurial spirits. In the USA, estimates show recycling accounts for almost 100 billion dollars in economic activity. Yet, we can’t rely on the Canadian government to control the garbage. To make a circular economy that will create jobs, jobs designed to repurpose post-consumer material. It’s time for some cunning entrepreneur to take over.
When John_D._Rockefeller bought his first oil refinery this was the start of a pioneering monopoly. He controlled the oil industry by purchasing refineries when oil was plentiful and prices were cheap. He bought the refineries to gain control and set the price for the commodity. This oil revolution spawned the oil empire we know today.
Canadians and food companies like Mcdonalds hold a dirty little secret. Together we generate more trash per capita than any other country in the developed world. By 2025 the World Bank estimates the world will produce 6 million tons of waste a day. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the Oceans than fish! It’s time to make a change.
Bring your own cup or bring your own plate through the drive-thru! In order to make an environmentally friendly impact think about how you can provide your own cutlery, cups, and containers daily.
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