Nature, Forests & Water
We’re taking a holistic approach to protecting natural resources, the communities that rely on them and the future of our business.
We aim to help manage nature-related risks and build resilience by working with farmers to preserve and regenerate nature and support biodiversity.
Water is also a critical resource at every step of our value chain, from supplier processes to our restaurant and office operations. These issues are closely connected to our work in climate action, responsible sourcing and human rights.
Our latest progress and data
Shaping Our Forests Strategy
We aim to eliminate deforestation1 from our global supply chains by the end of 2030.
This builds on the momentum of our 2020 milestones where we tackled deforestation for our primary commodities:
- Soy (for chicken feed)
- Palm oil
- Fiber (for guest packaging)
Our Commitment on Forests (PDF – 350 KB) and its Supporting Addendum for Commitment on Forests (PDF – 491 KB) set out our vision for achieving our goal. The commitment applies to all priority commodities and every sourcing region, covering both direct and indirect suppliers. Importantly, our commitment extends beyond forests to other areas of high conservation value, safeguarding the people and communities globally who depend on these natural spaces.
To look back on our previous goals and achievements, see the Progress Summary we published in 2021 (PDF – 6.24 MB).
McDonald’s is a signatory to the New York Declaration on Forests, a shared commitment from some of the world’s most influential countries, companies and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to help end deforestation by 2030. To build on this, we’re also collaborating through others as part of the Cerrado Protocol.
In 2022, we joined the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition. The coalition is a multi-company initiative to stop commodity-driven deforestation and address global climate change issues across consumer goods manufacturers and retailers. As part of this membership, McDonald’s will be publicly reporting on an agreed set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to maintain ongoing transparency and accountability.
Read more detail in our Consumer Goods Forum’s Positive Coalition 2022 Report (PDF – 200 KB)
Our Global Supply Chain Approach
We are committed to helping drive industry transformation and supporting deforestation-free supply chains at scale. For us, it’s not just about preventing forest clearances; it is also about leveraging our size and position to help protect biodiversity, reduce our carbon footprint and respect human rights. Read more about our approach to climate action and upholding human rights.
Prioritizing Action and Engaging Our Supply Chains
To further our work in this area, we identify the areas where we can have the greatest positive impact:
- We partner globally with WWF, Proforest, industry groups and our suppliers to prioritize where we should act and how we can collaborate to multiply positive impact.
- We engage with suppliers, preparing bespoke plans that comply with our sourcing requirements and mitigate future risks. Suppliers report to McDonald’s on their progress and compliance annually and are expected to do the same with their own suppliers.
- We are lead members of CDP Supply Chain and annually request that our suppliers respond to CDP Forests if they use forest risk commodities within their supply chain. This enables us to provide annual feedback to suppliers on their actions to conserve forests across their business and identify areas for further focus.
Human Rights and Forests
Human rights are an important element of our forests commitment and our broader Company commitments, and we are constantly seeking to strengthen our work toward supporting a deforestation-free supply chain.
Read more about our approach to upholding human rights.
To ensure we are reporting clearly and consistently against our commitments, and in conjunction with our work with expert partners and recognized frameworks such as the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi), McDonald’s commitments and expectations are formed based on the definitions of deforestation set out below.
- Eliminate Deforestation refers to McDonald’s global pledge to tackle deforestation, and all of the social and environmental criteria in our Commitment on Forests in our agricultural and forestry supply chains. We use the term “supporting deforestation-free supply chains” below to more accurately reflect the actions we are currently taking to implement, measure and report progress toward our Commitment on Forests.
- Deforestation refers to the loss of natural forest as a result of i) conversion to agriculture or other non-forest land use; ii) conversion to a plantation forest; or iii) severe and sustained degradation as aligned with the definitions of AFi.
- High priority regions are defined as countries, biomes, municipalities, postcodes or farms/ plantations that are identified as areas where deforestation occurs or is projected to occur as determined through regular assessments that rely on the latest supply chain data and trends. McDonald’s assesses this risk annually with third parties, including WWF, to take into account the latest supply chain data and trends.
- Low priority regions refers to countries, biomes, municipalities, postcodes or farms/ plantations that are classified as no or low risk of deforestation, as determined through regular assessments that rely on the latest supply chain data and trends. McDonald’s assesses this risk annually with third parties, including WWF, to take into account the latest supply chain data and trends.
- Supporting deforestation-free supply chains refers to commodities in our supply chains that are either sourced sustainably from high priority regions and comply with the certification or verification schemes as set out below or are sourced from low priority regions as above.
Sourcing Our Priority Commodities
We are maintaining and developing our approach to our priority commodities at high risk of deforestation as a key part of our forest strategy – regularly reviewing our prioritization with input from partners including Proforest and WWF. We are also looking at the positive impact we can have in other priority commodities.
As part of our work, we have identified where McDonald’s can use our sourcing scale to make the biggest impact. We work to a time-bound action plan for these suppliers, including specific sourcing, measurement and compliance requirements.
Where possible, we rely on reputable commodity-specific, third-party certifications to verify our priority commodities. When suitable certifications are not available, as in our beef supply chain, we can invest in external verification systems to map, monitor and address our impact.
Each raw material is different and requires a tailored approach. We drive continuous improvement through internal and external monitoring and auditing of our direct suppliers, validating the volumes and sustainability credentials for each raw material.
For each of our priority commodities, to be classed as supporting deforestation-free supply chains, we require the following:
- Beef – McDonald’s requires that all the beef we source meets the requirements of our Deforestation-Free Beef Procurement Policy (PDF – 146 KB) and Commitment on Forests (PDF – 350 KB). We currently have more detailed requirements within this policy for beef sourced from Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Australia.
- Soy (for chicken feed) – We require that all soy sourced for the feed of chicken used in McDonald’s products is either sourced from low priority regions or, when sourced from high priority regions, including Argentina and Paraguay (Chaco biome) and Brazil (Amazon and Cerrado biomes), must support responsible soy production. Given the complexity of soy supply chains, we consider that, unless demonstrated, all of McDonald’s sources of soy for chicken fall into high priority regions, with the exception of chicken sourced in the U.S. and Canada, where soy used in feed is locally produced and therefore volumes are considered low priority. We support responsible soy production through the purchase of RTRS credits. A number of our chicken suppliers to Europe also use physical certification through ProTerra standards. Soy produced in the Amazon biome meeting the Amazon Soy Moratorium requirements is also recognized as compliant when suppliers can provide proof of traceability and assurance.
- Palm oil – Palm oil sourced for McDonald’s restaurants or as ingredients in McDonald’s products must meet the requirements of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification. All countries are considered high priority regions for palm oil and all volumes are required to be covered by RSPO certification or credits. McDonald’s is committed to increasing traceability by requiring physical certification for the palm oil used in the McDonald’s System in the greatest volumes.
- Coffee – McDonald’s requires coffee sourced from Honduras, Indonesia and Vietnam to be Rainforest Alliance Certified™.
- Fiber – McDonald’s requires that our primary fiber supply is sourced from Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified or FSC controlled wood sources, with full chain of custody certification when the country of fiber origin includes Argentina, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Russia2 or Vietnam.
Using Satellite Technology to Address Deforestation in Our Beef Supply Chain
Unlike other major priority commodities such as coffee or palm oil, there is no widely established global certification scheme or credible third-party process for monitoring and addressing potential deforestation in our beef supply.
We worked with Proforest and local stakeholders, using industry-standard definitions from AFi, to establish a Deforestation-Free Beef Procurement Policy (PDF – 146 KB) tailored to each priority sourcing country. We partnered with Agrotools, a certified B-Corp, using cutting-edge satellite mapping and national government datasets to determine which areas to prioritize and assess for deforestation. A farm’s location may make it a priority, but that does not mean deforestation is happening. When threats to forests are identified, our suppliers are expected to address the findings through corrective action plans where required.
Nature-positive ecosystems – areas where biodiversity thrives – are vital for securing the materials we need to safeguard a successful, resilient business in the food sector.
Developing Our Approach
Challenges must be faced head-on with clear and practical solutions. For nature, this starts with assessing nature-related dependencies and risks, identifying opportunities to adapt and innovate for positive future impact.
McDonald’s has joined the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) Forum to collaborate and contribute to the frameworks, metrics and solutions required to undertake these assessments, and to consider the complex interplay between each aspect to determine the right course of action.
Through the TNFD Forum, we are determining the key metrics that will enable measurable progress in supporting nature and biodiversity throughout our value chain.
Nature as a Climate Solution
Most of McDonald’s environmental impacts occur in our supply chains, which is why we continue to engage our suppliers in adopting more sustainable practices. We are investing in innovative solutions and collective action to address climate-related risks and advance processes that are better for the planet.
Conserving forests and developing nature-based solutions like regenerative farming techniques are critical to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. We consider nature in our climate scenario modeling, including the potential for unpredictable weather changes, impacts on the natural resources we rely on and transitional risks as the world shifts to a low-carbon economy.
Read more in our Climate Risk & Resiliency Summary 2021 (PDF – 3.82 MB).
The positive environmental impacts and biodiversity benefits from regenerative farming models are clear and measurable. We can support farming communities and create more resilient and economically viable systems for the long term.
We’re currently finding ways to collaborate on scaling nature-based solutions across the supply chain by listening to, and learning from, the farming community. This includes partnering with suppliers, expert NGOs and other organizations on farmer and rancher-led programs that promote adoption of regenerative practices.
Advancing Regenerative Agriculture
We use regenerative agriculture as a key tool for furthering our nature, forests and climate strategies. We have joined long-term partnerships with AgMissionTM and FAI Farms to continue collaborating on regenerative practices. See our latest report for examples of key regenerative agriculture projects and their progress in 2022.
Protecting Threatened Species
Alongside our human rights and climate impact work, McDonald’s has expanded its focus by engaging in efforts to halt conversion of ecosystems that host biodiversity. We are focused on providing safe habitats in farming landscapes by finding ways for farmers to coexist with predators.
One such example involves our efforts in Brazil to support the Instituto Onça-Pintada – the Jaguar Conservation Fund. Apex predators, such as jaguars, are a good indication of a robust and thriving ecosystem. The Fund’s Certificado Onça-Pintada, or Jaguar Friendly Ranch Certification, recognizes accomplishments related to protecting this threatened species.
By encouraging our suppliers to pursue actions and conduct facilitating the coexistence of cattle production and jaguars, we are helping landowners step into a leadership role in protecting the jaguar’s existence for future generations.
Water is vital to our business. We need safe, readily available water to run our restaurants and serve the drinks our customers love. Additionally, to create our iconic food items, we rely on agricultural products, which in turn depend on freshwater sources. With water sources under increasing pressure from climate change, extreme weather, floods, drought and growing population demands, we need to treat every drop as precious.
Shaping Our Water Strategy
We’re working to conserve water, use it responsibly and efficiently, and build resiliency. Despite global water abundance, freshwater is a finite and limited resource. Issues around availability and quality are felt on a hyper-local level all around the world – in the communities where we operate and in the regions where we source our food and materials.
Water Risk and Resiliency
Across our System, we model scenarios to understand the transition and physical risks posed by climate change. Water is a key pillar in how we build resiliency, for both our restaurants and suppliers. We are currently identifying best practices for mitigating water risks that we can scale, such as through regenerative agriculture.
Learn more in our Climate Risk & Resiliency Summary 2021 (PDF – 3.82 MB).
Water Stewardship in Our Supply Chains
Water stewardship practices are embedded in our sourcing requirements. We expect suppliers to proactively manage, measure and minimize the environmental impact of their own operation, including through responsible water use and disposal. We also expect suppliers to be consistently improving the sustainability of sourcing practices throughout their supply chains and encourage them to report their progress through the CDP Supply Chain water disclosure.
Guidance for suppliers on best practice water stewardship and management is included in our Global Sustainable Sourcing Guide, an internal resource that is in line with internal targets, emerging risks and developing best practices. This resource guides our food, packaging and logistics suppliers at the market and global levels.
Water Stewardship in Our Restaurants and Offices
We focus on water quality, availability, efficiency and stewardship in our restaurants. This could include utilizing initiatives like low-flow devices, rainwater harvesting, condensate recovery and greywater use in toilet facilities across certain markets.
For example, in 2021, we conducted water efficiency pilots across 19 restaurants in Southern California. Post-implementation analysis of some restaurants resulted in roughly a 30% reduction in water use and annualized savings of 3.7 million gallons through various retrofits and maintenance measures. Building on this success, an additional 34 stores were surveyed in 2022.
Our U.S. restaurant construction and remodel standards now include low-flow urinals and high-efficiency faucets that use less water. We also encourage the use of native and/or drought-tolerant landscaping, along with storm water management using rain gardens, permeable pavements and rainwater collection and reuse.
We follow similar approaches in Europe. For example, McDonald’s France encourages good environmental practices through EcoProgress, a sustainability management platform. EcoProgress includes 15 practices focusing on water management, such as improving flush efficiency and waterless urinals. Restaurants are also encouraged to report and analyze their monthly water consumption, then create action plans to improve their consumption using a dashboard provided.
1 “Eliminate Deforestation” refers to McDonald’s global pledge to tackle deforestation, and all of the social and environmental criteria in our Commitment on Forests in our agricultural and forestry supply chains. In alignment with the definitions of AFi, we use the term “supporting deforestation-free supply chains” below to more accurately reflect the actions we are taking to implement, measure and report progress toward our Commitment on Forests.
2 Product sourced from facilities in Russia, but for sale in active markets is still included within our data sets, despite our decision to exit Russia in 2022. This includes fish from Russian fisheries or fiber from Russian forests.