At a Glance


Food Services

Project Types

Engagement and Behavior Change, Sustainability and Energy Management Strategy




Chicago, IL


Sarah Cole researched and provided insights on sustainability strategies for McDonald’s carbon reduction goals.


Knowing their standing as a global leader in the foodservice space, McDonald’s Corporation is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. To continue their progress towards these goals, McDonald’s is exploring sustainability initiatives at the local and global levels. They engaged Sarah Cole to research proven strategies for reducing emissions and topic areas including internal carbon pricing and travel.


Sarah’s work with McDonald’s fell into three categories:

  • Industry Research: From reading reports and articles, conducting interviews with other companies, and reviewing companies’ websites and ESG reporting, Sarah researched models, use cases, trends, and benefits of tools including internal carbon pricing. 

  • Data Gathering: Sarah collected data from external and internal partners to identify data gaps. She also consolidated information on different activities across the global System, including travel. 

  • Proposal Creation: Sarah combined learnings from industry research and data gathering exercises to provide McDonald’s with proposals for furthering their emission reduction progress across the global system. Proposals included use cases and concrete next steps for further investigation, with a presentation to McDonald’s Sustainability leadership and Sustainability leaders around the globe.

Potential Impact

The strategies proposed by Sarah have the potential to shape behaviors across the global McDonald’s System, including nearly 39,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, on travel and climate accounting and finance. Changes implemented by McDonald’s and their suppliers therefore can impact millions of McDonald’s customers and the communities that they live in.

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