MomActivism: McDonald's Canada

In my previous post, I had contacted both McDonald's Media and Non-media Relations to find out why there were no recycling bins in its restaurants. The company spokesperson called back the very next day and left a message. Hopefully, I will be able to speak to him on Monday.

In the meantime, I decided to firm up some questions. I went back to the company's website to do some more research. I discovered that 95% of the cardboard used behind the counter was recycled and that McDonald's was the largest user of recycled paper in its industry. Under the heading Environment: Recycle, there is a picture of two men standing outside a McDonald's restaurant, watching a dumpster being unloaded into a green garbage truck with the golden arches logo on the side. Funny, this was the first time, I had ever seen a green McDonald's garbage truck. On the same page, it states that the restaurant chain has "undertaken a number of composting pilot projects" in recent years, but no dates or locations of such projects were given. Please bear in mind reader, soiled paper products cannot be recycled, but they can be composted.

The website also points out that "food waste is converted to compost material and energy." This would suggest that the company conducts two different types of composting: aerobic and anaerobic. However, before you can compost, you have to have a sorting system to separate food scraps from the plastic and wax-coated paper. So again my question: why aren't there recycling bins in McDonald's restaurants?

There's no doubt that recycling requires more work. You have to take the time to wash recyclables, you often have to sort them, and then they have to be taken out to the street. But everyone I know does this. McDonald's is a large corporation with 1,400 restaurants nation-wide and is one of Canada's largest employers of youth, employing some 70,000 people. It has the financial means to set up sorting stations and wash its plastic containers.

I believe that a restaurant chain that targets our children with its clown and toys and later entices them with the independence of employment should be setting an example and reinforcing the values that we establish in our homes. Although I recognize and applaud the corporation's efforts on the other side of the counter, it still needs to model socially responsible behaviour where we can actually see it.

Research tip: When researching a company always check the Investors' and Media sections of the website. You will often find some very interesting facts that are not disclosed in the sections intended for the general public.

McDonald's Canada

Previous post:
Sad Ending to An Otherwise Happy Meal

Related posts:
Mom Activism: Raising Retail Awareness about Eco-Friendly Packaging
Plastics: of the 3Rs Your Best Bet is to REDUCE
Part 1: Tipping Point of Tim Hortons Paper Cup
Part 2: Tipping Point of Tim Hortons Paper Cup
Part 3: Coming to Grips With Change
Part 4: Success is Not All Roses
Tim Hortons: Some Freshly Baked Environmental Solutions

2 comments: | February 7, 2010 at 2:40 PM

I was uncharacteristically in McDonald's last week (it was too durn cold to go searching for a veggie alternative!) and ordered the not-quite-as-bad-for-you-as-anything-else-on-the-menu fish filet. I was pleased that you can now get a salad in your trio, but was mystified by all the paper packaging used to serve the dressing and croutons. I then did what I always do in fast-food joints, pain that it is: I wiped off all the plastic pieces and put them in my purse to recycle later at home. Even so, it seemed like a lot of pieces for a simple meal and I asked my companion, who's a regular, what the deal was on recycling there. His answer? "At Rotten Ronnies? Are you kidding?"

All this to say that I was very happy to see your concern and research and will be quite interested to see how this gigantic corporation responds. Go Momactivist go! P.S. I read recently that the new 3 Rs for a healthier planet are: Reduce, Resist, & Research, so you're right on target.

Heather | February 7, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Wow, Reduce, Resist and Research. It's so true. I just found an article this morning on "the Corporation's" $1.22 billion profits, a year-over-year increase of 23%. They can buy a lot of recycling and washing stations with that. It's time "the Corporation" did its own dishes.

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