By Glenn Rolfe
Those famous Golden Arches are pledging to become environmentally greener.
Eighteen McDonald’s restaurants on Delmarva owned by Michael Meoli are among the 37,000 worldwide in a global corporate effort to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Cardboard recycling remains paramount as well as energy-saving initiatives such as LED lighting. Foam cups and serving trays are also being phased out in lieu of biodegradable products.
“Right now, it’s all the packaging that comes in the backdoor. That all goes back. That is fully recycled,” said Mr. Meoli. “But the initiatives that you are seeing today in our local restaurants, is that reduction in some of the packaging. So, the foam cups are gone. Pretty soon, the platters that the breakfast platters come on, they will no longer be foam. They will be a hard paper.”
McDonald’s corporate-based initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at restaurants and corporate offices was announced recently.
To address the challenge of global climate change, the company will source food responsibly, promote and use renewable energy effectively, reduce waste and increase recycling.
“To create a better future for our planet, we must all get involved,” said McDonald’s CEO/President Steve Easterbrook.
Recently, McDonald’s announced plans to partner with franchisees and suppliers in scientific-based goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and corporate offices by 36 percent by 2030 from a 2015 base year. The company has also committed to a 31-percent reduction in emissions intensity – per metric ton of food and packaging – across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels.
Last week, this initiative brought U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper to the Bridgeville McDonald’s – one of Mr. Meoli’s eight restaurants in Sussex County.
“I am a big believer in leadership by example. Thank you for providing a good example,” said Sen. Carper.
Mr. Meoli, whose franchises in Sussex County include Georgetown, Millsboro, Long Neck, Selbyville, Bridgeville, Seaford, Rehoboth Beach and Fenwick Island, says this is all part of a renaissance that McDonald’s is going through.
“There are a lot of smart people at McDonald’s. We’ve been doing this for a long time,” said Mr. Meoli. “And I think for too many years they asked themselves, ‘How do we get better?’ But they left out the customer, to the point where it was, ‘Maybe we should ask the customers what they think.’ Most of these initiatives are directly from what our customers are saying.”
Many of the initiatives are being driven by the millennials, Mr. Meoli said. Corporate plans include other benchmarks.
“We set two goals, both by 2025,” said John Monsif, McDonald’s U.S Government Relations Director. “The first goal is that 100 percent of McDonald’s packaging comes from certified renewable and recycled sources. We are actually 50 percent of the way there. We’ve been working with EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) for over 20 years now. The second goal is by 2025 all of the restaurants around the globe will have recycling.”
Until further notice, Big Mac cartons and double cheeseburger wrappers still go in trash receptacles.
“You know the challenges behind recycling … not only in the U.S. but globally,” said Mr. Monsif. “We recognize that. That’s why we’re going to have to work with the secondary markets and other stakeholders to figure out; once we do something in the restaurant, where does it go and how do we get it to recycle? That is something that we are looking at as a corporation. We want to lead on that.”
“Right now, it’s cardboard. And we’ve been doing that for years. So, all cardboard packaging is separated and recycled,” said Mr. Meoli. “Nothing that is used by a customer is being recycled. So, we’re not there yet, mainly just because, ‘Where do we take it?’”
Mr. Meoli’s Bridgeville restaurant underwent a makeover modernization about a year ago. His Seaford restaurant is in the on-deck circle. He said Seaford city council recently approved those plans.
“Our goal is to have that building down on the ground hopefully between September and October,” Mr. Meoli said.