The greenification of junk food

What do Dunkin' Donuts, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Budweiser have in common? They're all going green.Dunkin' is...

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 11:33 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 11:33 PM

What do Dunkin' Donuts, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Budweiser have in common? They're all going green.

Dunkin' is getting rid of foam cups and replacing them with recyclable paper ones. Coke will recycle more and use more environmentally friendly packaging. McDonald's will start using eco-friendly materials and place recycling bins in restaurants. Budweiser has committed to brewing all of its beer using renewable electricity by 2025.

Why the sudden greenification of junk food? Sustainability is starting to pay off.

"This is a trend that's taking on steam because it's good business," said Tensie Whelan, director of the Center for Sustainable Business at NYU's Stern business school.

Renewable energy is cheaper

In many cases, renewable energy is just a better deal than other sources of power.

The cost of solar electricity fell by two-thirds between 2010 and 2017, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Companies used to have to stretch their wallets to go green. Now clean energy could end up saving them money.

Using power purchase agreements, or PPAs, brands can enter into long-term agreements with power providers that lower their risky exposure to fossil fuels, explained Stephen Comello, director of the Sustainable Energy Initiative at the Stanford business school.

Natural gas may be cheap now, said Comello, but prices could go up and end up costing the company more down the line.

Related: Coke: We'll recycle one can or bottle for every one we sell

Thinking ahead

Companies may be making changes now in anticipation of water shortages in the future.

As extreme weather becomes more common, companies are less able to predict how much water they'll be able to use in factories and other production facilities.

Businesses that don't reduce the amount of water they use now will suffer in dry years and have a hard time planning for the future. For example, a devastating water shortage in Cape Town, South Africa, has put nearly 49% of companies at risk of closure, according to a survey by the South African city's chamber of commerce.

Related: McDonald's is going green

Whelan suspects that fears of changes in the water supply may be why a company like Coke is starting to become more sustainable.

"The waste that comes from those bottles and the amount of water they use are becoming increasingly major risks," she said.

Consumers care

Establishing yourself as a green company is a good way to attract -- and keep -- customers.

Consumers with several options need a reason to pick one brand over another. A promise to help protect the environment could be that reason, Whelan explained.

Customers value transparency, and they want to know the impact of their dollar, says Rob Wilson, a research analyst with the asset manager MSF Investment Management. If they care about sustainability, they'll want to buy from a company that shares those values.

Employees care

Customers aren't the only ones who want to make sure they're making a difference. Employees care, too, and they want to work for a brand they believe in.

A commitment to sustainability is a good way to attract talent and hold on to it, said Jay. 64% of Millennials said they won't take a job with a company that doesn't have strong corporate social responsibility values, according to a 2016 survey, according to public relations company Cone Communications.

Related: Dunkin' Donuts pledges to ditch foam cups

Millennials, in particular, "are interested in purposeful work," he said. "They want to be working for 'good' companies."

And brands want to keep up with the forward-thinking tech brands, which have all made commitments to sustainability.

"The whole tech industry is really trying to move toward a renewably-powered cloud and data industry," said Jay. "It's become a symbol of innovation."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 787421

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1114521765
Mobile708161234
Madison49744633
Baldwin36201495
Shelby36186315
Tuscaloosa33818548
Montgomery33135678
Lee22590220
Calhoun21140410
Morgan19795335
Etowah19188462
Marshall17659274
Houston16788386
St. Clair15408305
Cullman14568258
Limestone14553188
Elmore14444264
Lauderdale13486281
Talladega12932236
DeKalb12174237
Walker10561330
Blount9693157
Autauga9652137
Jackson9363158
Coffee8847175
Dale8584173
Colbert8508184
Tallapoosa6661181
Escambia6585121
Covington6432167
Chilton6372144
Russell605355
Franklin5779101
Chambers5398134
Marion4789120
Dallas4694189
Clarke462279
Pike461597
Geneva4396117
Winston425295
Lawrence4112108
Bibb408581
Barbour346570
Marengo326285
Butler318190
Monroe318153
Randolph305256
Pickens304474
Henry301358
Hale292285
Cherokee289455
Fayette279073
Washington245248
Crenshaw237970
Cleburne235251
Clay228365
Macon219258
Lamar196243
Conecuh181846
Lowndes170758
Coosa169935
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136437
Sumter124436
Greene121243
Choctaw73427
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While some cool mornings are again in store for the weekend, afternoons start to warm up a bit, so plan on dressing in layers if you're heading to the MSU or Bama games, because you'll need to utilize them in different ways.
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