Climate score: McDonald’s ‘not good’ but winning

Sarah Gardner Jun 12, 2007
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Climate score: McDonald’s ‘not good’ but winning

Sarah Gardner Jun 12, 2007
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TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: As more consumers look for ways they can help fight climate change, there’s a growing interest in what different companies are doing as well. Beginning today it will be easier to figure that out. A group called Climate Counts is ranking some of America’s most popular companies based on their response to global warming. And as Sarah Gardner reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, the group begins with a look at the burger and taco business.


Sarah Gardner: Climate Counts is the brainchild of Gary Hirshberg. He’s the environmentally-savvy CEO of Stonyfield Farm, the organic yogurt company.

The idea behind this campaign is to let consumers know whether their favorite brands are engaged in the fight against global warming.

Gary Hirshberg: Are companies measuring their impact on climate? Are they reducing, are they disclosing their efforts? And finally, are they supporting or are they blocking progressive legislation to reduce our climate footprint as a country?

Climate Counts scores companies on a scale of 1 to 100. Of the four fast-food giants they judged, McDonald’s scored highest — a 22. Burger King, Wendy’s and Yum Brands, owner of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, all rated a big fat zero.

Climate Counts project director Wood Turner:

Wood Turner: None of the other companies in the sector have even taken the first step to measure their climate footprint.

Turner described McDonald’s score as “not good,” but gave the fast-food leader credit for starting to experiment with green building, biofuels and other eco-friendly changes.

McDonald’s said it welcomes the scrutiny. Yum Brands didn’t comment by deadline, but Burger King and Wendy’s said they were addressing global warming with energy efficiency measures.

Wendy’s Denny Lynch:

Denny Lynch: Early results are showing we’re decreasing the amount of usage . . . energy usage by 10 percent.

But Climate Counts says in this day and age, companies can’t be shy about publicly reporting their green efforts. How else can activists and consumers judge them, after all?

Morningstar analyst John Owens, however, wonders whether fast food’s core audience — young, hungry guys — will care.

John Owens: By and large I would say that fast-food customers probably aren’t as engaged on this issue. And I mean, maybe they’re getting more news about what Paris Hilton’s doing rather than what’s going on with global climate change.

Climate Counts will score more companies next week, including Coca-Cola, Apple and Starbucks.

Gary Hirshberg’s own company, Stonyfield Farm, will be rated as well. He says his organic yogurt biz ranked “in the upper tier,” but he was still disappointed in the score.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: As more consumers look for ways they can help fight climate change, there’s a growing interest in what different companies are doing as well. Beginning today it will be easier to figure that out. A group called Climate Counts is ranking some of America’s most popular companies based on their response to global warming. And as Sarah Gardner reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, the group begins with a look at the burger and taco business.


Sarah Gardner: Climate Counts is the brainchild of Gary Hirshberg. He’s the environmentally-savvy CEO of Stonyfield Farm, the organic yogurt company.

The idea behind this campaign is to let consumers know whether their favorite brands are engaged in the fight against global warming.

Gary Hirshberg: Are companies measuring their impact on climate? Are they reducing, are they disclosing their efforts? And finally, are they supporting or are they blocking progressive legislation to reduce our climate footprint as a country?

Climate Counts scores companies on a scale of 1 to 100. Of the four fast-food giants they judged, McDonald’s scored highest — a 22. Burger King, Wendy’s and Yum Brands, owner of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, all rated a big fat zero.

Climate Counts project director Wood Turner:

Wood Turner: None of the other companies in the sector have even taken the first step to measure their climate footprint.

Turner described McDonald’s score as “not good,” but gave the fast-food leader credit for starting to experiment with green building, biofuels and other eco-friendly changes.

McDonald’s said it welcomes the scrutiny. Yum Brands didn’t comment by deadline, but Burger King and Wendy’s said they were addressing global warming with energy efficiency measures.

Wendy’s Denny Lynch:

Denny Lynch: Early results are showing we’re decreasing the amount of usage . . . energy usage by 10 percent.

But Climate Counts says in this day and age, companies can’t be shy about publicly reporting their green efforts. How else can activists and consumers judge them, after all?

Morningstar analyst John Owens, however, wonders whether fast food’s core audience — young, hungry guys — will care.

John Owens: By and large I would say that fast-food customers probably aren’t as engaged on this issue. And I mean, maybe they’re getting more news about what Paris Hilton’s doing rather than what’s going on with global climate change.

Climate Counts will score more companies next week, including Coca-Cola, Apple and Starbucks.

Gary Hirshberg’s own company, Stonyfield Farm, will be rated as well. He says his organic yogurt biz ranked “in the upper tier,” but he was still disappointed in the score.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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