How Sustainable Are Big Companies?

Do you drink a Starbucks coffee in the morning? What about when you don’t have time to cook something and you grab a quick burger from McDonalds? What about Coca-Cola? Apple? Do you know if these big companies are trying to better our environment? Or do they just keep it hush hush?

Let’s start with Starbucks; are they going down a greener route? On their website there’s a section that’s called “Shared Planet” that explains what they are trying to do with their carbon footprint. Well the website states that:

“It’s our commitment to purchase only the highest quality, ethically sourced and responsibly grown coffee. To reduce our own environmental footprint and fight climate change. And to give back to the neighbourhoods and communities we’re a part of. Thanks to the customers who buy our coffee, together we are able to make – and make good on – these commitments on a truly global scale.”

According to their website they’ve been able to get some LEED-certified stores that are “completely eco-friendly” there website says “Our first LEED® certified store at 1st and Pike in Seattle has been designed and built with many environmentally smart features.” so out of the 21,366 stores there’s “over 750+ LEED-certified stores in 19 countries across all three of our regions—more than any other retailer in the world.”

Now are they living up to that expectation? Sure they may have 750+ LEED-stores but what about their cups? Are their cups eco-friendly? Are they recyclable? In truth even though they may have 750+ Eco-friendly stores they produce more landfill waste with their cups then make good with their eco-friendly store.

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McDonald’s. Everyone’s always got a bone to pick with McDonalds, but what about the “environmental” side? According to their website they say: “At McDonald’s®, we understand less is more when it comes to environmental responsibility – less energy, fewer emissions and less waste. We’re committed to environmentally -responsible practices in three main areas: packaging, sourcing and energy conservation.”

They “pride” themselves with their energy conservation, packing, sourcing, and recognition. Concerning energy conservation McDonalds say: “Through energy-saving practices in the areas of ventilation, lighting and heating, McDonald’s restaurants in Canada have saved an estimated 27 million kWh and 1.47 million cubic meters of natural gas since 2005, which equates to 8,214 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – equal to taking approximately 1,504 cars off the road for one year.” Sounds good doesn’t it?

But if you look on their website they’re only cutting back the electrical energy and natural gasses from the heating/cooling systems, and cooking applications; but what about their lighting, water waste, or food waste? It doesn’t talk about that anywhere on its website, and McDonald’s wastes enough food in one day to feed an average Canadian family for a week.

Their packing is a different story; sure they may still use plastic materials, called Clarified Polypropylene, to make their McCafe cups but that material does use 20% less materials compared to polyethylene terephthalate. They use wood fiber in “everything from sandwich wraps and fry boxes to takeaway bags and tray liners”. They also have an “Environmental scorecard” that states “For the past five years, we have used our Environmental Scorecard to encourage suppliers to measure and reduce their environmental impacts. Suppliers provide annual data for energy, water, air and waste relative to units of production. Suppliers then use the scorecard to identify and share best practices throughout McDonald’s supply chain related to collectively producing more with less – less waste, less pollution and less use of resources during the development of our products.” Sounds too good to be true.

They also try and “do our part and more and we’re proud of the recognition for our sustainable business practices.” But for all they say, there is much, much more that they can do.

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1.8 million People drink Coca-Cola. 25+ billion of those bottles are PlantBottle which are made from plants, which is great especially for the planet. 525,000 barrels of oils have been “saved” because of this. But where do those plants come from? Do they remove tons of plants from their natural habitat and make them into these PlantBottles? The answer to that is that there was no answer, and all that Coca-Cola have about being eco-friendly is this info-graphic:


Maybe it’s time to make Coca-Cola more responsible for their actions, after all, with all that power has to come more responsibility.


Apple are trying their hand at being eco-friendly too, they have a fantastic website that says everything that they are doing concerning saving our planet. There’s graphs and pictures which what people look for. Did you know that 100% of Apples U.S operations run on renewable energy? Apple has a solar farm in Hongyuan, China, that are used in “all our corporate facilities and retail store in China”.

Here is what apple has to say about using renewable energy: “Our planet provides tremendous resources that make it possible for us to produce our packaging and power our facilities. But trees, sunlight and wind aren’t just valuable, they’re sustainable. To help ensure that future generations have access to even more forest than we do, we’re partnering with The Conservation Fund to create and protect the types of sustainably managed forests that produce virgin fibre for paper and packaging. We’re powering all our U.S. data centres with 100 percent renewable energy — including our new micro‑hydro project that helps power our Prineville, Oregon, data centre — and we’re continuing to make major advances toward powering all our corporate facilities and retail stores the same way.” They also say that “not everything can be replaced. So we reuse and recycle.”

“Over the past decade, Apple designers and engineers have continued to pioneer new ways to build our products with less material.” This explains why apple iPhone are getting thinner and thinner, annoying as it may be it is economical.

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It’s hard to find out too much information about large companies and their efforts to make their products sustainable, but we have to. We have to make these companies realize that in taking the resources out of the earth, they need to take some responsibility to the planets sustainability. We always have the option of voting with our spending dollar, so even if all you can do if find out about the sustainable practices of the products you buy the most, you are gaining the information you need to make an informed choice. Information always brings a better decision.

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