Climate change: McDonald’s launches net zero carbon restaurant – prompting accusations of greenwashing | Climate News

McDonald’s today opened its first net zero restaurant, but some experts accused the fast food chain of “greenwashing.”

The restaurant in Market Drayton, Shropshire is powered by on-site solar panels and wind turbines, insulated with British sheep’s wool and coated with recycled computer equipment and white goods. It will also be based on carbon offsets.

The building is designed to “retain the look and feel of McDonald’s to ensure it can be replicated effectively,” and will feature the same menu as other branches of McDonald’s, famous for its beef burgers.

McDonald’s Beth Hart said their food should be “served in sustainable restaurants for the future,” adding that “Market Drayton is a big step in making it a reality.”

But activists are not convinced by the company’s environmental claims. Anna Jones of Greenpeace UK said: “If meat and dairy are still the main course of McDonald’s menu, then this new restaurant initiative cannot be labeled as it is: McGreenwash.

Greenpeace describes greenwashing as a “public relations tactic that is used to make an environmentally friendly business or product appear without significantly reducing its environmental impact.”

Ms Jones said South America’s climate-critical forests were “wiped out” by meat and dairy-related production, and McDonald’s should “think beyond emissions from specific UK sites and start moving urgently its entire business model towards meatless alternatives “. .

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A McDonald’s spokesperson said the restaurant was “just one of many actions we are taking as a company,” including its “ambitious sustainability plan to meet our goal of zero net emissions in the industry. all of our UK and Ireland operations, and across the value chain, by 2040 “.

Jennifer Jacquet, associate professor of environmental studies at New York University, called the announcement “extraordinary greenwashing,” saying the real problem was methane, a powerful gas that heats the climate.

“They want praise for focusing on ‘local sourcing’ and ‘carbon’ in their day-to-day operations at one UK store – when the problem is very clearly methane from the burgers sold in their 39,000 stores across the world, ”she said.

Cows release large amounts of heat-trapping methane during digestion, making beef the most climate-damaging food. McDonald’s said its net zero goal covered methane and carbon dioxide.

Ms Jacquet said she had “not yet seen anything from McDonald’s that has convincingly demonstrated how they would achieve net zero – and during that time they continue to market and sell hundreds of burgers per second.”

However, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a charity that encourages companies to measure and act on their environmental impact, hailed the restaurant as an “innovative and very welcome initiative.”

CDP’s Dexter Galvin said: “McDonald’s is one of the few companies currently engaging their suppliers in deforestation through CDP, and their recent B scores for forests show they are taking action when it comes to deforestation linked to basic products ”.

The restaurant is the first in the UK to be verified as net zero emissions for construction using the UK Green Building Council’s net zero carbon buildings framework.

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