Accessibility Tools
Dogwood Alliance
Our Forests. Our Strength.
Home > McDonalds Opinion Piece

McDonalds Opinion Piece

McDonald’s can lead…on responsible paper packaging

From Crains Business Journal

Oct. 06, 2008

Andrew Goldberg

The facts are staggering: Domestically, 300
pounds of packaging waste are generated per person annually. Containers and
packaging equal 32% of the domestic waste stream. Diners on the run generate 1.8
million tons of fast-food packaging per year, constituting 20% of all

Corp., among the largest purchasers of fast-food packaging, has been working on
its latest corporate social responsibility report and hopefully leading the way
on forest protection, because better choices on boxes, bags and cups can protect
forests and biodiversity and help buffer us from climate

innovations of the fast-food industry have given us more and cheaper dining
options. Their economies of scale and drive for efficiency have transformed
agriculture, meat processing and the labor market. But the negative impact of
fast-food chains’ insatiable demand for paper packaging on the forests of the
Southern United States — the world’s largest
paper-producing region — is just as staggering. According to the U.S. Forest
Service, between 5 million and 6 million acres of forests, an area greater than
the size of Delaware, are clear-cut each year. Often, the
forests are replaced by pine plantations, which now cover 43 million acres
across the South. Recent science confirms that these plantations do not absorb
and sequester carbon as well as the natural

industry giants are big buyers of paper packaging from those forests. With
nearly 100 paper-packaging mills in the South, corporations have a tremendous
impact on U.S. forests. Despite the desire of
many companies, including Oak Brook-based McDonald’s, to go green, fast-food
companies continue to source packaging from mills using outmoded forestry

Instead of
supporting large-scale clear-cutting, conversion of natural forests to
industrial pine plantations, habitat loss and degradation, fast-food companies
could move toward more responsible practices, including reduced usage and
increased use of post-consumer recycled content fiber to make paper

has made big strides in packaging efficiency and in increasing the post-consumer
recycled content of packaging. Now, post-consumer recycled content makes up 23%
of its consumer packaging.

But as the
leading global food-service retailer with more than 30,000 restaurants serving
52 million people each day, McDonald’s consumption of virgin fiber is
supersized. With its soon-to-be released corporate social responsibility report,
the company can reiterate its commitment to environmentally responsible
paper-packaging practices, and reduce the impacts of its consumption of virgin
fiber by adopting procurement practices, including Forest Stewardship Council
certification, recognized by both the environmental and business communities as
the international gold standard of forest practices

Send a column for
the Opinion page to [email protected].
Please include a telephone number for verification purposes, and limit
submissions to 425 words or fewer.

©2008 by Crain Communications

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>