Are McDonald's Golden Arches Turning Green?

Representative Says Environmental Awareness Helps Bottom Line

CHICAGO -- In this disposable world, McDonalds is one of the kings.

And to the naked green eye, it seems like an environmental villain. NBC5's Ginger Zee investigated just how environmentally friendly McDonald's really is.

Zee said she found that McDonald's "pretty much rocks in the green department."

For more than 20 years, Bob Langert has been working to make McDonald's green. His official title is McDonald's vice president of corporate and social responsibility.

"This is an old container made of polystyrene foam, (the new container) has the same function, (and it's) designed with environment in mind," Langert said. Bags, cups, napkins, and almost anything donning the golden arches is now made from 45 to 100 percent recycled material. "We redesigned the package to take off one quarter inch of back flap and saved three million pouds of packaging," Langert said. Most of McDonalds waste comes from behind the counter, but they've got their McNuggets together back there, too. "We recycle all of our boxes and all of our cooking oil," Langert said. He added that the lighting in the franchises is done with T8 flourescents, which save about 25 percent on energy costs. With all of the recycling going on behind the counter, Zee wondered why consumers can't recycle containers they use in McDonald's restaurants. Langert said food waste mixed in with the recyclables would hinder recycling efforts. "I think, with our business, the way of the future is some sort of composting and organic recycling," he said. Peter Seligmann, chief executive officer and chairman of Conservation International, said McDonald's is a role model for other companies when it comes to being environmentally friendly. Langert added that being green means being more efficient for the company, helping their bottom line as well. While an oranic burger isn't in the immediate plans, McDonald's does hold their suppliers to a stringent environmental scorecard.

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