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Market Drayton McDonald's
Photograph: Anthony Devlin

The UK’s first net-zero McDonald’s has just opened in a pretty random place

The new branch in Shropshire apparently removes as much carbon from the atmosphere as it produces

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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If we’re going to make a proper difference when it comes to reducing humans’ impact on the planet, change is going have to start at the very top. Specifically, Governments and multinational companies cause the most damage right now, and so it’s on them to do a lot (in fact, most) of the legwork.

McDonald’s is one of those multinationals, standing accused of being one of the UK’s top polluters. And so that’s why it’s pretty good news that today the fast-food chain is opening its first net-zero carbon restaurant in the UK. The new branch in Market Drayton, Shropshire, claims to move as much carbon from the atmosphere as it produces. 

The chain says the restaurant is net-zero from both a construction and day-to-day perspective. In simple terms, that means that the Market Drayton Maccy’s has lots of stuff built out of recycled or sustainable materials. It features a drive-thru lane made from recycled tyres, kerbstones made from plastic bottles and cladding fashioned from recycled household white goods and IT equipment. It’ll be powered by on-site solar panels and wind turbines, and even has its very own ‘biodiversity garden and nature trail’.

Which all sounds somewhat promising. And what’s more, McDonald’s claims that the branch is a model for its other restaurants throughout the UK. While one ‘net-zero’ branch is probably little more than a greenwashing stunt, if similar projects are implemented throughout the country (and the rest of the world), the chain could seriously transform its impact on the environment.  

It should be noted that McDonald’s isn’t the first UK restaurant chain to try and significantly cut back on emissions. Mexican street-food chain Wahaca has been carbon-neutral for about five years, while steakhouse Gaucho opened its first net-zero restaurant in Glasgow in November. Market Drayton isn’t the first ‘net-zero’ McDonald’s either – that title goes to a branch in Disneyworld, Florida. But still, it’s hopefully a sign of major industry-wide change to come.

Now read about 21 amazing things cities are doing to fight the climate crisis.

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