Green Growth Plans Spread from Europe to Latin America & the Caribbean
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Green Growth Plans Spread from Europe to Latin America & the Caribbean

Green Growth Plans Spread from Europe to Latin America & the Caribbean

The editorial in the Autumn 2019 issue of The European issue was: "Tomorrow's growth must be inherently green." It continues with these observations:

"A poll released by the German TV station ARD this September found that for around two-thirds of German voters, climate change should be a bigger political priority than growth. It is no coincidence that Green parties, which advocate such an approach, are on the rise in Germany and across Europe."

"Many economists argue that our obsession with growth, as measured by output, is misguided," the editorial continued. "Many believe that GDP needs to be adjusted to incorporate 'environmental capital' and its depletion over time."

Yet, as Canadian-American author William Gibson observed, "The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed."

The editorial recognized this: "But in countries yet to reach Western standards of living, prioritizing green policies is easier said than done. When facing a dilemma between much needed economic development and sustainability, many politicians and business leaders prefer the former."

Still, the movement by franchisors around the world is moving relentlessly toward sustainable growth, which means responding to the public's demands for more eco-friendly packaging and products. Here are two examples from McDonald's - one from its largest independent franchisee, another from the company itself.

Latin America: McDonald's franchisee cuts 200 tons of single-use plastic annually

Arcos Dorados, franchisee of 2,200 McDonald's employing more than 90,000 people in 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries and territories, announced that it has eliminated about 200 tons of single-use plastic since removing straws a year ago at its restaurants. This initiative not only directly benefits the environment, it also raises awareness among the company's millions of daily customers.

"Our responsibility to the environment is an important part of our company's values, and we remain focused on this strategy while seeking to convey a message that extends beyond our restaurants," said the company's Director of Sustainable Development and Social Impact Gabriel Serber in the announcement. "These initiatives enable us to share with millions of customers, suppliers, and other constituents the importance of small, positive habits to the planet, ensuring we are all part of the solution."

Arcos Dorados is aligned with the 2030 global goals of the McDonald's system and of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), which seek to minimize the use of disposable plastic products. The company operates in Argentina, Aruba, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

McDonald's "Better M" platform tests new green initiatives across Europe

On November 14, McDonald's announced a wide-ranging program to remove and minimize plastic and improve recyclability in packaging across Europe. The plan includes removal of McFlurry lids across every European country McDonald's operates in, the rollout of a new fiber-based lid across all cold drinks in France, and trials across markets for alternatives to the plastic McFlurry spoon, a redesigned paper straw, and toy take-back programs.

The trials are part of McDonald's global "Better M" platform to implement environmentally positive changes across the brand's sustainable packaging and recycling supply chain as well as the customer experience. Selected restaurants across Europe will serve as testing grounds. Feedback from customers and franchisees will determine which options are scaled up or adapted.

Currently, 78% of packaging used by McDonald's globally is made from fiber. This figure increases for its European markets where fiber accounts for about 88% of all packaging, and plastic only 12%. Specifics of the initiatives include the following:

  • Straws - An "evolved" paper straw is set to roll out across Europe. After a first attempt to replace plastic straws failed, the new paper straws are now stronger, while still made of fully recyclable materials. Several markets, including Italy and Portugal, offer straws only on request.
  • McFlurry - More than 1,200 tons of plastic will be saved per year through a makeover of McFlurry packaging that eliminates the need for a separate plastic lid. This change will be fully implemented across Europe by the end of 2020. Trials for plastic-free McFlurry spoons also are being conducted with wooden and paper alternatives.
  • Cold drink lids - Another 1,200 tons of plastic per year will be saved through the introduction of a fiber lid for all cold drinks in France. The new lids are made from 100% certified sustainable sources and recyclable materials.
Published: November 27th, 2019

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