Greening the Golden Arches

Hoping to reduce GHG emissions produced by beef cattle, McDonald's U.K. is partnering with an indepdent environmental consulting firm. (Photo credit: FAO)

Methane gas produced by livestock accounts for an estimated 4 percent of the U.K.'s total carbon emissions. (Photo credit: FAO)

McDonald’s is hoping to change the way consumers view fast food. In partnership with the E-CO2 Project, an independent U.K. consulting firm, the company is launching a three-year study to assess methane production from beef cows in the United Kingdom, as well as ways to reduce livestock production of the greenhouse gas.

A burger joint famous for drive-thru windows and Happy Meals is certainly not the first business that comes to mind when one thinks about environmental sustainability. But with increasing mainstream awareness of the negative consequences of beef production for both human health and the environment, the fast-food giant is looking to reposition itself as leader of green business models.

McDonald’s purchases beef from more than 16,000 British and Irish farmers, who raise their cattle in large feedlots. The methane gas produced by livestock accounts for an estimated 4 percent of the U.K.’s total carbon emissions. McDonald’s hopes that the results of the study will help guide efforts to reduce suppliers’ methane production. The initiative also will likely help “green” the corporation’s image in the minds of an increasingly environmentally conscious public.

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