Jun 6, 2009

Burger and Fries To Go, Hold the Emissions

So, we have been called out as the fast food nation, living off of the quick greasy burger, large salty fry, and my favorite, a Diet Coke to balance out the calorie intake. And, due to recent flak by the health industry, the big fast food corporations have been beefing down their menus by introducing some color like fruit into kids meals and ready-made salads for the parent-on-the-go. One other color now found at some fast food restaurants: green.

Leading the way is McDonald's with purchasing fish products from sustainable fisheries. Hey, if mega food suppliers like McDonalds can do this, are there really any excuses left for other suppliers?

McDonald's is sending its frying oil for conversion to biofuel. Of greatest significance, corporate social responsibility executive, Bob Langert, is trying to rally others in the beef industry to pressure farmers, transporters, and others in the cow to burger process to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising cattle as well as pollutants that may runoff into waterways, according toFast Company). McDonald's is greening their buildings across the world with solar panels, waste energy recovery and reuse, and in Canada and the USA, achieving various LEED ratings. The best I can say about McDonald's is that I can go on and on about their many green initiatives- including their transit-friendly facilities-and no other fast food corporation is achieving anything close to the home of Ronald McDonald.

The other major fast food chains like Burger King and Wendy's have not shown themselves to be as green. In fact, in twenty minutes of searching throughout Wendy's web site, I was unable to find any green initiatives (although, I found some valuable community initiatives).

Burger King is also lacking and if I had to rate them on their shade of green, I'd say a very pale lime. If we can really have it our way, how about a burger in a recycled content package, or some free range chicken?

Unfortunately for Burger King, a few franchises in Tennessee owned by Mirabile Investment Corporation got in some hot water for displaying signs claiming that "global warming is baloney," contradicting the official company policy (as reported by the Sustainability Ninja).

There was mention of downsizing-- as opposed to supersizing-- new restaurants to limit the amount of energy needed to cool or heat establishments, a tankless water heater, and a specialized burner that cycles heat instead of powering on and off wasting residual heat.

These are decent starts to approaching energy efficiency, but, because these features are only installed in 110 out of more than 10,000 facilities, it is rather like a cold, soggy fry: a disappointing appetizer. While not all of the big names have introduced environmental policies into their daily routines, a few are well on their way, and that, inspires me to grab a large Diet Coke and maybe a to-go bowl of fruit.

By Andrea Nocito - Matter Network


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