Forests play a vital role in creating oxygen and absorbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. People, plants and animals rely on forests for food, fresh water and shelter, yet they and other high value conservation areas remain under threat.
The UN's Global Forest Goals 2021 Report, states that "Between 2015 and 2020, deforestation, which measures the conversion of forest to other land use, stood at 10.2 million hectares (ha) per year."
When we fail to protect forests, climate change effects worsen, critical biodiversity is lost and livelihoods and human rights are threatened – as are the natural ecosystems that we all rely on for the food we eat. This is why supporting deforestation-free supply chains and promoting forests as a climate solution is not just our responsibility, it is core to our business.
McDonald’s is committed to eliminating deforestation from our global supply chains. 2020 saw us reach a major milestone by achieving our goal of supporting deforestation-free supply chains for several of our primary ingredients and materials – beef, chicken (soy in feed), palm oil, coffee and the fibre used in guest packaging. You can find out more about how we reached this milestone as a global business and our Commitment to Forests here.
We recognise that we have more work to do, particularly on soy. That’s why McDonald’s UK & Ireland is accelerating progress in this area and, as a signatory of the UK Soy Manifesto, is committing to sourcing soy used as an ingredient (“direct”) and in the animal feed across our supply chains (“embedded”) from deforestation-free supply chains by the end of 2025*+. This commitment extends beyond forests to other areas of high conservation value, to the people and communities around the world who depend on forests. We acknowledge that in order to meet this ambitious commitment we will need to continue to collaborate to address underlying causes of deforestation, as shown through the Influence pillar of our strategy below.
* Scope includes soy sourced for feed of livestock (“embedded”) used in McDonald's products. It also includes soy used directly (“direct”) as an ingredient in McDonald's products. This applies to both UK and non-UK direct suppliers of products containing soy used directly as an ingredient or embedded soy.
+Cut-off date of January 2020 or earlier (upholding pre-existing or emerging sectoral or biome-wide cut-off dates already in place e.g., the Amazon Soy Moratorium).
McDonald’s UK & Ireland Strategy on Soy is based on three pillars: Innovate, Illustrate and Influence.
We recognise that soy plays an important role in providing a nutritious feed source to animals – but there is increasing innovation to deliver alternatives. We encourage and support our suppliers to consider reducing and replacing soy in animal diets, whilst being mindful of the potential impact any alternatives might also have.
We are committed to tracking progress against our goal and we map our soy footprint annually. We know that the majority of soy used in our supply chain is in animal feed. While the soy sourced to feed chickens grown for McDonald’s in the UK & Ireland currently supports deforestation-free supply chains through third party certification with cut-off dates aligned to the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) principles, we want to go further.
Informed by data from our suppliers we assessed deforestation risks associated with embedded soy in our UK & Ireland supply chains for chicken, pork, dairy, beef, eggs, and direct soy. We are now in the process of creating action plans with our suppliers, aligned to the three pillars of our Strategy on Soy. Through these action plans, we aim to support progress on soy sustainability not only in our own supply chains but also throughout the wider sector.
We know that the underlying causes driving deforestation are complex and larger than any one company can address alone, which is why we will collaborate within and beyond our supply chain to help drive transformational change. For example, we are proud founding signatories of the UK Soy Manifesto. The UK Soy Manifesto is a collective industry commitment signaling a new approach to soy, enabling UK companies across the supply chain to step up and develop inclusive solutions. We are also members of the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soy, a collaboration between the UK government and Industry. Through the Roundtable, companies and industry associations work together to achieve a shared goal of supporting resilient supplies of soy for the UK which are legal and cultivated in a way that protects against the conversion of forests and valuable native vegetation.
You can find out more about the actions that underpin our commitments to the UK Soy Manifesto here.
Measuring and Reporting on Progress
McDonald’s UK & Ireland is committed to annually reporting our progress towards our commitment, including the actions we take to achieve the commitments of the UK Soy Manifesto. We are committed to improving traceability and supporting more transparent reporting across our supply chains.
We recognise the challenges related to how companies report progress toward their deforestation commitments and targets, and efforts are ongoing to standardise reporting practices. To ensure we are reporting clearly and consistently against our commitments, we work with expert partners and align our definitions with recognised frameworks such as the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi). McDonald’s UK & Ireland commitments and expectations are in line with McDonald’s global definitions of deforestation set out here.