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Pope praises McDonald’s environmental efforts



I.Media - published on 06/08/23

Pope Francis praised plastic-reduction measures taken by McDonald's and mentioned that plastic has already been banned in the Vatican.

A “change of course” is necessary, Pope Francis told promoters of the Italian “Green and Blue Festival” environmental event. They had gone to the Vatican to mark World Environment Day on June 5, 2023. During the audience, the Pope praised the plastic-reduction initiatives of fast-food chain McDonald’s. He had received its president, Chris Kempczinski, earlier in the morning.

In his speech, the 86-year-old Pontiff recalled his meeting with Ségolène Royal, then French environment minister, during her visit to Strasbourg in 2014. “She told me she’d heard I was writing something about the environment. I told her yes, that I was reflecting with a group of scientists and also with a group of theologians. And she said, ‘Please publish it before the Paris Conference.’” And that’s how the encyclical Laudato Si’came about,” the Pope recounted. 

The 2015 COP 21 in Paris “was a beautiful meeting, not because of my document, but because it was a high-level meeting,” the 266th Pope added, before hinting at his disappointment: “After Paris, unfortunately … that worries me.”

And he criticized the division of the world into “blocs of countries that promote their interests in an isolated or unsustainable way.”

Consumeristic society

“The real enemy is irresponsible behavior, which has repercussions on all the components of our humanity today and tomorrow,” Pope Francis said. He called for a “change of course, a decisive change in relation to the current model of consumption and production.”

Changing this model is “urgent” and “can no longer be postponed,” so that generations do not inherit an “uninhabitable world,” he insisted.

Peter’s Successor then recounted how he had granted an audience that morning to “the McDonald’s groups, the restaurant owners.”

“They told me that they have abolished plastic and that everything is made of recyclable paper, everything,” he added. In Italy, McDonald’s has changed over to paper containers. In France, on the other hand, disposable tableware has been banned in fast-food restaurants since January 2023, so the chain now uses reusable plastic.  

“Plastic is banned in the Vatican,” said the Argentine Pontiff. “And we’ve made it 93%, I’m told, plastic-free. These are steps, real steps that we must continue to take,” he insisted. 

For the Pope, this challenge must be faced “at every level, from small everyday choices to local and international policies.”

He recognized that these changes can be costly, giving the example of Italian fishermen from San Benedetto del Tronto in the Marche region, “who in one year managed to remove 12 tons of plastic from the sea.”

“I remember these fishermen from San Benedetto del Tronto telling me, ‘For us, at first the choice was a bit difficult, because bringing back plastic instead of fish didn’t bring us any profit.’ But there was something there: their love for creation was greater.”

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