McDonald’s opens first-ever ‘net-zero’ restaurant, in the UK

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

The golden arches are going green. McDonald’s has opened its first-ever “net-zero” restaurant in Market Drayton, in the UK.

Powered by a combination of renewable energy and built using natural or recycled materials, the restaurant’s design claims to meet net-zero standards for both construction and operations.

Put simply, net-zero means the balance between the amount of carbon dioxide an action emits and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

“The challenge of decarbonising the construction industry is a complex one, but McDonald’s commitment to building the first restaurant in the UK in line with UKGBC’s net-zero carbon buildings framework is a critical first step,” said Simon McWhirter, director of communications, policy and places, UKGBC.

The restaurant is powered by two on-site wind turbines and 92sqm of solar panels, producing 60,000 kw/h of energy per year, while the restaurant’s interiors are insulated with natural wool, and the cladding is crafted from recycled household goods and IT equipment. 

McDonald's opens first-ever 'net-zero' restaurant, in the UK
Source: Dezeen

In the car park, signs are made from used coffee beans, and more than 1000 kerbstones are made from recycled plastic bottles – which the restaurant claims to reduce carbon emissions by 25kg per kerb versus conventional concrete.

Recycled tires are repurposed as drive-thru lanes, producing less carbon dioxide than tarmac, which is a cement-gravel mix, and helps reduce water from going down the drain as the material is more absorbent.

McDonald's opens first-ever 'net-zero' restaurant, in the UK
Source: Dezeen

In addition, local school children have designed a biodiversity garden and nature trail behind the restaurant.

The restaurant has, however, shared that consumption-based emissions related to its beef-heavy menu have not been taken into account, meaning it is not fully net-zero, reports Dezeen.

The building was designed by Hertfordshire studio Scurr Architects, while Manchester-based AEW Architects oversaw construction. 

According to the restaurant, despite its green innovations, the site has been “deliberately designed to retain the familiar McDonald’s look and feel”. It plans to use the design as a “blueprint” for McDonald’s new builds around the UK from 2022, with some sustainable measures already being implemented at other outlets.

The fast-food giant said that the net-zero restaurant is only the beginning of its broader commitment to the environment. In September, the company pledged to make its Happy Meals more sustainable and reduce its virgin plastic use by 90 per cent by 2025. 

The company also aims to make all 1400 of its restaurants and offices in the UK meet net-zero emissions standards by 2030 and for its entire UK and Ireland business – including food – to follow suit by 2040.

“Market Drayton is a big step towards making that a reality, enabling us to test and put into practice what a net-zero emissions building, both in build and use, really looks like,” said Beth Hart, McDonald’s VP of supply chain and brand trust.

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.

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