OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Responding to increasingly strident criticism of its impact on the countries it operates in and sources from, McDonald's Corp. cited establishment of -- or improvements in -- sustainable agriculture programs, animal welfare and recycling in its first-ever Social Responsibility Report.
The 46-page document lists a number of initiatives touching all areas of company operations, from beef procurement and workforce training to packaging and people. The report is divided into four segments: community, environment, people and marketplace.
Among its initiatives, the burger giant embarked on a new partnership with the Center for Environmental Leadership on Business to implement sustainable agriculture and conservation practices within McDonald's worldwide supply network. The report also notes that the company passed the $4 billion mark in the purchase of recycled materials for use in food packaging. On a global basis, the operator has reduced packaging by 200,000 tons by redesigning straws, napkins, cups, fry cartons and related items.
Most recently, McDonald's teamed up with the organization, Environmental Defense, to study the effects of animal antibiotics. One result of the joint effort has been last year's request that all McDonald's poultry suppliers cease use of therapeutic antibiotics on chickens.
McDonald's has also been working with independent animal-welfare experts to help drive improvements in the treatment of animals. Guidelines have been established and processing facilities are audited for compliance, according to the report. Additionally, McDonald's formed an independent animal-welfare council to advise the company on issues regarding the condition and treatment of farm animals.
Responding to consumer fears over mad cow disease and its fatal human variant, McDonald's -- which experienced significant declines in profits during last year's mad cow scare in Europe -- established another advisory council devoted to keeping the company up-to-date on the disease, as well as monitoring and suggesting best practices to protect the company's extensive meat-sourcing network.