The fast-food giant's goals would be the equivalent of removing 32 million cars from the road.

Jillian Kramer
March 20, 2018

It’s no surprise that cows have a huge environmental impact: they produce carbon dioxide and release methane gas, greenhouse gases that have serious implications for the earth’s climate control. And with every American eating an average of 55 pounds of beef each year, there are no indications this environmental pressure will disappear anytime soon. But now, at least one fast-food chain has acknowledged its contribution to the problem—with a promise to make a change.

McDonald’s announced today it will take steps to cut the greenhouse gases emitted in the production of its beef, the Associated Press writes.

McDonald’s—the largest burger chain in the world, according to the Associated Press—will change how the beef in its Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, and other beef products are produced, it says, which should prevent the release of some 165 million tons of greenhouse gases into the air by the year 2030. And that is no small promise: taking 165 million tons of greenhouse gases out of the Earth’s atmosphere is equivalent to removing 32 million cars from the road, according to the Associated Press article.

How, exactly, will McDonald’s accomplish this eco-friendly feat? McDonald’s says it will work hand-in-hand with its beef producers to reduce carbon emissions, but did not say how. The fast-food chain also promised to swap old light bulbs and kitchen appliances for new, environmentally-friendly options at its franchise locations.

In a separate announcement earlier this year, McDonald’s said it’s also working to replace its packaging products—used to make its cups, boxes, and wrappers—with “renewable, recyclable, or certified materials,” according to a January CNN report.

About 60 percent of McDonald’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the chain’s “beef production, restaurant energy, and packing,” the Associated Press says, which is why McDonald’s is focusing its attention on those three areas first.

Of course, McDonald’s is hardly the first food company to make a promise to better the environment. Dunkin’ Donuts has said goodbye to its iconic Styrofoam cups, which are damaging both land and ocean when they’re carelessly tossed away or littered. If environmental progress could become the new point of competition among fast-food brands, we're all for it!