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Categories: Social Responsibility

Let's face it, McDonald's doesn't exactly scream sustainability. Yet the fast food chain has shown a fierce determination to demonstrate its green cred that goes back to way before it became so cool. In the late '80s and early '90s, McDonald's focused on reducing its packaging--eliminating 300 million pounds of the stuff. Granted, there was plenty of packaging to get rid of, but still ...
    Since then, the company has tackled sustainability projects on multiple levels, everything from collaborating with Greenpeace on a soy moratorium aimed at protecting the Amazon to rolling out an environmental scorecard for its suppliers. The company also recently opened a green version of the Golden Arches on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, USA. And now others are under construction in France, Brazil, Canada and Costa Rica.
    Of course with the global economic crisis, the big question for McDonald's and every other company out there is whether the commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects will last. Bob Langert, McDonald's vice president, says CSR can't be a standalone. On his blog, he writes: "CSR must be part of the way we think and act every single day. It is this type of mindset and way of doing business that does not waiver in the face of economic instability."
    The struggle to balance sustainability and the bottom line isn't likely to end anytime soon. Check out the February issue of PM Network for an in-depth look at how the crunch may turn out to have a "cleansing effect" on sustainability.
Posted by Cyndee Miller on: December 26, 2008 12:24 PM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Alex Kesaris
The current economic environment will afford the impetus toward developing more projects with 'sustainability' and 'corporate social responsibility' objectives. Project managers will have the opportunity to play key roles in the operationalization and implementation of sustainable development. In the short-term, opportunities may be sparse, but I envision a lot of opportunities as the national and the global economy restructures and recovers. The timeframe for the recovery is unknown, and it is anyone's best guess as to when particular fundamentals will pick up (I am surely not an expert on this aspect); however, I believe that the global movement toward implementation of the sustainable development agenda will become a major, new, mainstream opportunity throughout all aspects of societies. I use the word 'agenda,' and this is yet to be fully determined; but, on a project basis, there should be adequate definition through pre-initiation discovery and initiation processes. I believe that we - as project management professionals - are going to have more opportunity than ever before... not only in science, engineering and technology, but also in behavioral, cultural, process and organizational change management. It may be a very good time to get educated and trained so that you'll be ready as the economy picks up.

Laurence Allaire-Poirier
Of course social responsibility and sustainable development are both closely linked to project management. I'd like to know if there's any kind of information about specific PM processes where sustainable development is considered. For example, in engineering, environmental issues are very important in the conception phase? Have articles been written about the moment when sustainable development is applied in the project life cycle?

PM Hut
Hi Cyndee,

I did publish about a week ago an excellent article on the topic of CSR and project management ( ). The article highlights the growing importance of CSR in a project management environment.

Hope you'll find it useful.

Rich Maltzman, PMP
This is an excellent post and set of comments on an intensely important subject. At EarthPM, our entire purpose is to focus on this intersection of "green" and project management. Our 5 Assertions (see the site for details) talk about the ways that project managers (who don't have to be 'tree-huggers') can - or rather - must contribute to the CSR and sustainability efforts of their organizations. We are, after all, by DEFINITION, change agents. Please see for more info, we welcome and encourage discussion at increasingly active site (new articles posted nearly daily). Thanks Rich Maltzman, PMP Dave Shirley, PMP PS: for those very interested in this, we do have book coming out on the subject, see:

Project Management Training
"The struggle to balance sustainability and the bottom line isn't likely to end anytime soon. "

It's true. However, designing packaging which use less materials seems to dictate lower costs over time.

Less material should mean less cost, even if the upfront costs are higher during design and initial production.

Seems like, overtime, sustainable practices would help both the CSR & the bottom line.

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