Deep Dialogue – 3/27/23 – Sustainability at McDonald’s with Elaine Strunk

Posted on Apr 12, 2023 | Deep Dialogues and Expert Series, Expert Series

Elaine Strunk, Senior Director for Global Sustainability-Food and Planet Impact at MacDonald’s Corporation speaks about the corporation’s environmental goals and progress made toward achieving those goals.  She notes the scope of MacDonald’s business operations: 38,000 restaurants, mostly franchises, in over 100 countries and the supply chains that serve these businesses.  This means that MacDonald’s actions have major impacts globally.  She describes science-based climate initiatives in a broad range of areas.  Among these are reducing emissions in the restaurant buildings and efforts to minimize waste in packaging, especially reducing single-use or hard to recycle plastics and other materials.  She notes problems encountered in these efforts, including customer preferences for less green products such as plastic straws and Styrofoam.  Other areas include making transportation more efficient to minimize emissions and reusing or recycling fry oil and cardboard. She discusses efforts to eliminate deforestation in sourcing core items such as beef, oil and other agricultural products and to encourage regenerative farming.

The presentation gives insight into how this large corporation seeks to become greener, while also dealing with customer reaction to changes in MacDonald’s products and cultural differences in many different countries or regions within the U.S.  Elaine notes working with many organizations and other corporations to define and implement better environmental practices.  She also noted that legislation on issues such as banning the use of Styrofoam packaging would make it easier to implement better practices by reducing competition with other companies.

In addition to Elaine’s formal presentation there are informative exchanges based on numerous questions from the audience. Watch the video here.

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