This entry was shortlisted in the 2012 Peer Award “Sustainability and the Environment” category

ref: 12-032

Develop the Most Environmentally Empowered Workforce
how to develop the most environmentally empowered workforce

Planet Champions (PC) is an employee engagement programme designed to benefit our environmental impact and business performance. It aims to help raise awareness and motivate staff to improve the environmental performance of our restaurants.
Employee vision: To develop the most environmentally empowered workforce in the UK
Founding principles:
• Drive behaviour change by utilising our economies of scale (we have 87,500 employees)
• Open to all employees interested in ‘green’
• Activities designed to work in parallel with restaurant operations
• PC’s encourage colleagues to think and act in a way which is better for our planet and our restaurant.

Feedback Survey (August 2011)
• On specific initiatives the % of people who felt they were “very aware” of the initiatives increased as follows: NOTE – this was crew (ie not planet champs) in restaurants that had a planet champion – before and after the scheme
Biodiesel recycling: 43% to 79%
Cardboard recycling: 76% to 90%
Energy saving: 51% to 81%
Litter 68% to 76%

• 84% of PC’s reported an increase in motivation and pride within their current role
• Reduction in our underlying electricity consumption by 3.6% in 2010 and an additional 3.1% in 2011.

PC is genuinely pushing the boundaries and driving real change in the way that we approach sustainability. By uniting our employees in the common cause of sustainability, they are more engaged than ever before and through harnessing the power of our people, we believe that we can make a real impact and make a bigger impact to the wider community. Whilst in recent years, our environmental initiatives have taken a top down approach, the benefits of PC are that we involve and engage our employees to really make a difference, through the bottom up.[/one_half_last]

We acknowledge that we did not do enough to reward and recognise the PC’s in year one, outside the Planet Champion community. In year two we are putting in place simple reward & recognition schemes such as highlighting best case studies on our employee website,, and making sure senior managers are made aware of good practitioners as we know people are really motivated by this praise and recognition.

PC gives our employees the chance to help improve the environmental performance of not just our restaurants but also make a bigger impact to the wider community. As one the first companies to introduce litter patrols picking up all rubbish, not just McDonald’s packaging, hundreds of our employees take part in litter clean-up events around the country, driven and organised by our PC’s. Similarly PC’s have a key role in championing and trialling new schemes. The uniform recycling test, aiming to achieve zero waste to landfill is currently underway, and PC’s are vital to the success of these trials, as we aim to move to closed-loop textiles for our uniforms.[/one_half_last]

The Speaker

Helen McFarlane
I have worked for McDonald’s for 22 years, having started as a part-time crew member whilst studying for my A-levels. I got promoted through Operations to a Business Manager, running restaurants in Heathrow airport. I then took a two year secondment in regional Human Resources, returning to Operations in 2001. I was promoted to Operations Consultant of the Reading group in 2002, then became a Franchisee Consultant in 2006, working with franchisees in south London and the south coast. I began an Environmental Studies degree with the Open University three years ago, and was lucky to be offered the role of Environment Consultant in September 2010.