McDonald’s recently opened a new kind of restaurant in Chicago, and it’s drawing interest for something other than its famous fare. In addition to the standard menu, the corporation is serving up a new concept: sustainability.
The new building itself is constructed of steel and wood timber, surrounded by over 70 trees and drought-tolerant plants. Its roof is also covered by natural vegetation. The location is part of the company’s Experience of the Future Campaign, an initiative toward meeting contemporary consumer expectations, and ecological soundness is high on that list.
Other features include exterior permeable pavers, which reduce runoff and filter pollutants, LED lighting inside and out, and a kitchen equipped with high energy-efficiency appliances. The company has announced a goal to have all freestanding locations transformed similarly by 2020. As huge as this undertaking appears, it is only a portion of the company’s plan to become totally green. Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced its intention to have 100 percent of its customer packaging generated from renewable, recycled, or certified sources and have recycling available in all its restaurant locations.
McDonald’s isn’t the only fast food chain concerned with the environment. Wendy’s, as part of its participation in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, has reported a 12 percent reduction in energy usage already, with a goal of 20 percent by 2025. Chipotle re-houses its used equipment and furniture by donating to other restaurants, keeping landfills cleaner, and it requests its shipments with minimal padding to reduce cardboard usage and waste. And Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, has constructed 30 LEED-certified buildings around the world, with plans to gradually incorporate similar green efforts in all of its locations.
As far as food waste goes, the outlook for earth is good—a 2018 report by the National Restaurant Association revealed that “reducing food waste is emerging as a key activity for [restaurant] operators.”
Reactions from leadership in environmental groups has been highly positive.