Image credits: Thomas Hawk
News Article

Burger King and UAEM Create Greener Burger

By Jan Hogewoning | Wed, 07/15/2020 - 17:16

Burger King is working on reducing methane emissions by adding lemongrass to cows’ diets, AP News reports. This modification, the fast-food chain claims, could reduce the bovine’s methane emissions by 33 percent. Methane gas, a by-product of a cows’ digestion, is seen as one of the most potent greenhouse gases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greenhouses gases generated by the agricultural sector contributed a total of 9.9 percent of US total greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

Burger King reportedly has been working with scientists at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) and the University of California to develop and test a formula that would add 100 grams of lemongrass leaves to a cow’s daily diet. Preliminary tests showed an impact on methane production. On Tuesday, Burger King introduced what it is calling the Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper to its menu at restaurants in Miami, New York, Lost Angeles, Portland and Austin.

This is not the first time a fast food chain takes action against climate change. AP News reports that two years ago McDonald’s already changed the way in which its Big Macs and Quarter Pounders were produced. This, the restaurant chain stated at the time, was expected to prevent the emission of 150 million metric tons of greenhouse gas by 2030.

There is growing pressure on corporations to improve their greenhouse gas footprint. According to a recent poll conducted by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, two-thirds of Americans think that corporations have a responsibility to take action against climate change.

A global investor coalition facilitated by investor network FAIRR and assets organization Ceres launched in January 2019, has been engaging with fast-food chains to demand they “set aggressive targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, water use and water quality impacts of their meat and dairy supply chains,” Environmental Leader wrote in January. At the time of its launch, Heike Cosse, of Aegon Asset Management, stated: “The takeaway from investors is that those firms that fail to meet this challenge face regulatory and reputational risks that put their long-term financial sustainability under threat.”

This global investor coalition, now comprising over 90 global investors worth US$11.4 trillion, has reportedly been engaging with Chipotle Mexican Grill, Domino’s Pizza, Wendy’s Co., Restaurant Brands International (owner of Burger King) and Yum Brands (owner of Pizza Hut and KFC) over the last year and a half. These six companies have a combined market capitalization of US$260 billion and manage over 120,000 restaurants worldwide. By January this year, McDonald’s and Yum Brands had agreed to set science-based emission reduction targets. McDonald’s had publicly disclosed that it conducted a water risk assessment on meat and dairy suppliers. Restaurant Brands International stated it was planning to conduct a life-cycle assessment that would include its water footprint. None of the companies, Environmental Leader reported, had set specific climate and water requirement for meat and dairy suppliers, however. The second phase, the investor coalition stated, was to send specific tailored requests to each company based on their current strategy.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
AP News, The Guardian, Environmental Leader
Photo by:   Thomas Hawk
Jan Hogewoning Jan Hogewoning Journalist and Industry Analyst