SEVERE WX : Special Weather Statement View Alerts

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."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 448268

Reported Deaths: 6013
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin931011480
Ramsey40016739
Dakota33072340
Anoka30999364
Washington20164228
Stearns17871187
St. Louis13690241
Scott1195496
Wright11614104
Olmsted1048475
Sherburne821365
Carver694836
Clay653280
Rice606868
Kandiyohi554371
Blue Earth541033
Crow Wing482774
Otter Tail457167
Chisago452732
Benton420186
Winona389646
Douglas374166
Nobles370846
Mower365529
Goodhue347958
Polk328658
McLeod325345
Morrison311744
Beltrami310347
Lyon302236
Becker284939
Itasca284543
Isanti282841
Carlton280043
Steele27379
Pine266713
Freeborn245321
Todd231730
Nicollet224636
Brown215134
Mille Lacs214246
Le Sueur210015
Cass207623
Meeker199733
Waseca189316
Wabasha17083
Martin170026
Roseau165416
Hubbard149338
Redwood139727
Renville137539
Houston135913
Dodge13474
Chippewa131332
Cottonwood127218
Fillmore12355
Wadena120116
Rock110212
Sibley10857
Aitkin108433
Watonwan10668
Faribault105916
Pennington99215
Kanabec97818
Pipestone94423
Yellow Medicine93714
Murray8815
Jackson85610
Swift83418
Pope7385
Marshall70215
Stevens7018
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake63715
Wilkin6259
Koochiching59610
Lincoln4841
Big Stone4573
Unassigned43768
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37219
Red Lake3174
Traverse2503
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 305606

Reported Deaths: 4278
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45754449
Linn17795275
Scott15444163
Black Hawk13773236
Woodbury13016175
Johnson1211749
Dubuque11387150
Pottawattamie8992112
Dallas888671
Story869434
Webster469771
Cerro Gordo466768
Sioux455157
Clinton450361
Warren443938
Marshall427761
Buena Vista393429
Muscatine390477
Des Moines381841
Plymouth350368
Wapello344198
Jasper321959
Lee317130
Marion304952
Jones271349
Henry264330
Carroll255434
Bremer245048
Crawford231022
Boone218417
Washington217632
Benton209444
Mahaska193136
Jackson192031
Tama187757
Dickinson186026
Delaware173736
Kossuth173644
Clay168820
Wright164824
Fayette162322
Hamilton160029
Buchanan159923
Winneshiek155719
Harrison155162
Hardin154729
Cedar153219
Clayton151448
Butler148224
Page144715
Floyd139636
Cherokee139027
Mills136416
Lyon135332
Poweshiek132724
Hancock130224
Allamakee127928
Iowa125422
Calhoun12279
Grundy121226
Jefferson120724
Madison12039
Winnebago119429
Mitchell116234
Louisa115030
Cass113341
Chickasaw111612
Sac111215
Emmet110831
Appanoose110538
Union108822
Humboldt105519
Guthrie103024
Shelby102926
Franklin102418
Unassigned9310
Palo Alto9079
Montgomery85622
Keokuk85026
Howard84219
Monroe81218
Clarke7957
Pocahontas77611
Ida74630
Greene6927
Davis69121
Adair68820
Lucas6508
Monona64016
Osceola6409
Worth6113
Taylor5949
Fremont5126
Van Buren49712
Decatur4894
Ringgold4389
Audubon4158
Wayne41421
Adams2963
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: -1°
Feels Like: 20°
Mason City
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 24°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 0°
Feels Like: 25°
Austin
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: -1°
Feels Like: 24°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 23°
Get ready for a midweek warm-up!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events