March 15, 2013

McDonald's launches carbon tool to aid UK beef farmers




McDonald's UK has launched a bespoke carbon tool to help British and Irish beef farmers improve environmental performance and efficiencies.


For the first time, the innovative 'What If?' tool will enable farmers to measure the carbon emissions produced per kilogramme of beef, and benchmark their score against top performing farms.


McDonald's is making the tool available and free of charge to all beef farmers, including those outside its supply chain. The tool is part of Farm Forward, its long-term programme, to create a sustainable future for British and Irish farming. The tool has been created by independent environmental and carbon consultants, The E-CO2 Project, following a three-year study involving more than 800 carbon assessments on over 200 commercial beef farms across Britain and Ireland.


The launch of the tool follows a November 2012 publication from Feeding the Future, a draft report backed by leading UK agricultural organisations, including the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE), which called for an urgent increase in R&D in agriculture in order to increase food production in a sustainable way.


The Carbon Trust-verified data collected as part of the three-year study reveals that environmental performance is linked to business efficiency. Based on these findings, the 'What If?' tool has been designed to help other farmers take a progressive look at their beef operation, improve their carbon footprint and drive greater efficiencies.


Farmers are asked to input data including daily live-weight gains for cattle, feed use per animal, fertiliser usage, sale weights and calf mortality rates.  A simple online dashboard delivers an instant assessment of current carbon emissions per kilogramme of beef produced, benchmarking farmers against the top 10% of farms in the data pool for their specific production system.


The tool also enables farmers to manipulate different 'What If?' scenarios to see which changes have the most impact on their carbon footprint and will in turn drive greater efficiencies for their business.


McDonald's has invested to better understand the greenhouse gas emissions of the British and Irish beef industry. Further investments will be made over the next three years to help beef farmers operate sustainable farm businesses through McDonald's Sustainable Beef Clubs. Farmers will be invited to share their knowledge and experiences at the free networking sessions in return for free consultancy and access to the latest research.