McDonalds on hunt for climate-friendly beef

FAST-food chain McDonalds is on the hunt for new methods to produce a climate-friendly beef burger.

The burger giant, which sources 350,000 cows from over 16,000 British and Irish farms every year, has launched a three-year study to cut methane emissions from its livestock.

The study will take place on 350 farms across Britain and McDonalds says it will help reduce livestock emissions that account for around 4 per cent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Steve Easterbrook, chief executive of McDonald’s UK, said:

“We have been working successfully for some time now to reduce carbon emissions in many areas of our business. 

“We are very excited by the development of this ground breaking project which we are piloting in the UK and which will help drive further reductions in our beef supply chain. At the same time it should also deliver real financial benefits to the farmer.”

The study, run by rural consultants the Eco2 Project, will measure on-farm emissions and advise farmers how best to reduce their emissions, improve efficiency – and of course, improve returns.

McDonalds UK has 1,200 restaurants in Britain and Northern Ireland, using only British and Irish beef in its burgers.

Peter Darlington, director of The Eco2 Project said the beef industry wanted to help meet climate change targets. 

“We think we can bring about significant reductions by harnessing the efficiencies of dairy beef, by improving existing suckler cow farming techniques and practices, and by generating further supply chain efficiencies.

“Our advice will help farmers do this by improving their existing farming methods. Relatively small changes can result in carbon savings on beef farms,” he said.

The project is seen as a positive reaction to Defra’s call last week for the food chain to take more responsibility for its greenhouse gas emissions, although cynics may question whether the results from a burger chain study will tell the whole story. 

A study carried out in America in 2006 calculated that the production life cycle of a single cheeseburger emitted around 3.1kg of carbon dioxide.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Beef from grazed grass. Grassland is an ideal carbon sink . New Zealand produces beef from grass only, why not here? Use grain for humans, not cattle!

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  • i agree with .I have always said that cattle should eat grass not fed crushed bone and unnatural feed stuff THAT WAS PROBABLY WHAT STARTED FOOT AND MOUTH

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