At the beginning of January McDonald’s Corporation announced its commitment to start purchasing verified sustainable beef in 2016. The company is striving to eventually buy only verified sustainable beef, but this will take a significant amount of time to achieve. So far the company has stated that it “will increase [its] annual purchases yearly,” to help achieve its long-term goal, but that realistically it will probably take a decade or more to reach the 100 percent verified sustainable mark.
The company sells nearly one billion pounds of beef every year, so changing its entire production source operation is a large undertaking. On the company site the corporation states “burgers remain some of our most iconic menu items,” sold in its worldwide restaurants. In addition According to an article from Green Biz, McDonald’s beef production makes up 28 percent of the company’s carbon footprint.
It is also important to remember that the production of cattle for beef has many other environmental impacts including deforestation and degradation of our land; contamination of water; extreme use of pesticides and herbicides for cattle grain; and many others. Since the corporation is one of the largest in the world and beef accounts for such a large portion of the company’s environmental impacts, by shifting to a more sustainable meet source the company can really help improve beef production and encourage more environmentally friendly practices.
Although this may not seem very relevant at the moment, since the company’s goal may take years to achieve, it is a hot topic because the new operation has taken years to come up with, and the strategy has been created by a huge collaboration of organizations.
Although it is not an immediate change, it is actually very impressive that the company can make this huge move towards running a more sustainable business in such a short amount of time. McDonald’s hasn’t come up with this plan all on its own though, they have organizations like World Wildlife Fund, beef suppliers Cargil, and JBS, all working towards creating a Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and McDonald’s makes up a large aspect of this program.
Although this is a costly and time consuming transition that may result in slightly more expensive burgers, it is clearly going to have extreme promotional benefits for McDonald’s. This already insanely successful company will now be able to combat some of its criticism about its negative environmental impacts, and promote itself as a company working towards a more sustainable world, starting with its commitment to sustainable beef.