McDonald's opens its first-ever net-zero branch

Mcdonald’s has today opened its first branch designed to meet a net-zero emissions standard in both construction and everyday operation.

The plan is for the branch to act as a blueprint for future restaurants around the nation.

Located in Market Drayton, Shropshire, it’s been designed with a view to ensuring it can be replicated as the business to achieve net-zero emissions for all its 1,400 restaurants and offices in the UK by 2030. 

They’ve equipped the branch with things like:

  • Renewable power from two wind turbines and 92sqm of solar panels – thus reducing the amount of energy the restaurant draws from the grid
  • Walls insulated with British sheep’s wool – replacing unsustainable man-made materials
  • Building cladding made from recycled IT equipment and white household goods – amounting to 250 sqm of recycled materials 
  • Wall signs made from McDonald’s used coffee beans 
  • Kerb stones each made from 182 recycled plastic bottles – reducing carbon emissions by 25kg per kerb compared to concrete kerbs, diverting more than 200,000 plastic bottles from landfill
  • A drive-thru lane made from recycled tyres – which produces less carbon-dioxide
  • A biodiversity garden and nature trail – designed by children from Market Drayton Junior School, it will collect rainwater from the car park and provide a habitat for wildlife

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There’s also wall art made from recycled polystyrene cups, fixed in place with potato starch from McDonald’s potatoes, EV charging points and furniture made from 100% recyclable materials.

This restaurant is also the first in the UK due to be verified as net-zero emissions for construction and daily operations by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

Simon McWhirter, UKGBC’s Director of Communications, Policy & Places said: ‘The challenge of decarbonising the construction industry is a complex one, but McDonald’s commitment to building the first restaurant in the UK in line with UKGBC’s net-zero carbon buildings framework is a critical first step.’

When asked about things other than the building and its furnishings, a rep for McDonald’s told that the food and drink will be served in the same packaging used at other branches.

They add: ‘Last year, 93% of the customer packaging we purchased for our restaurants was from renewable, recycled or certified sources.

‘We are committed that, by 2024, all our customer packaging will come from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and designed to be recyclable or compostable. We have also committed that by 2027 we will give waste collected from our restaurants a second life by recycling, composting or reusing it.’

On the sustainability of staff unifoms, they say: ‘This is something that is currently being explored and developed but has not yet been rolled out.’

And as for the food itself, again their supplies for this branch remain the same as others, with their rep pointing out: ‘As with all of our restaurants, where possible we source within the UK and Ireland, including our 100% British and Irish beef. We work with over 23,000 British and Irish farmers, growers and suppliers across the UK, and we work with pork and salad suppliers that are both local to Shropshire, as well as local dairies.’

The opening of this branch is part of McDonald’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions across its entire UK and Ireland business, including its value chain, by 2040.

‘At McDonald’s we believe that our food needs to be served in restaurants that are sustainable for the future,’ said Beth Hart, McDonald’s vice president of supply chain and brand Trust.

‘Market Drayton is a big step towards making that a reality, enabling us to test and put into practice what a net-zero emissions building, both in build and use, really looks like. We’ve already started to roll out some of these innovations to other restaurants.’

The rep told us: ‘Market Drayton will act as a blueprint that we can learn from and replicate in the coming years as McDonald’s looks to achieve net-zero emissions for all its 1,400 UK restaurants and offices by 2030.

‘Whilst Market Drayton is the UK’s first net-zero carbon restaurant, elements are already being rolled out across more than 40 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK.’

The add: ‘Reducing carbon emissions is an industry-wide challenge, so we will be sharing all of our learnings within the industry to ensure others can benefit from the advancements and innovations made at Market Drayton.’

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