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4th July 2023

Should we ban Chicken McNuggets?

Generating 302 tonnes of CO2 each day, this McDonald’s favourite is at risk of being axed.
Should we ban Chicken McNuggets?
Photo: Erik Mclean @ Unsplash

Easy and delicious: takeaways and deliveries are too tempting to resist. Whether you’re celebrating, exam-stressed, or you simply can’t face another night of pesto pasta, everyone relies on a takeaway every now and then.

But have you ever thought about the environmental impact? Vanarama has carried out research into our favourite fast-food chains and takeaways, and the statistics are shocking

They have estimated that up to 41 tonnes of CO2 could be generated by McDonald’s deliveries every day. 

Heartbreakingly, the worst product for emissions is the beloved Chicken McNugget. Their 20-piece Sharebox generates nearly 2.5kg of CO2 each day, which totals 302 tonnes across all restaurants. This is the same amount of CO2 generated by six London to Paris flights. 

After the Chicken Legend – another high producer of CO2 – was removed from the menu last year, questions have been raised about the fate of the McNugget. 

However, it’s not just the McNuggets that are causing environmental damage. Following closely behind are the Chicken Big Mac, the McCrispy, and the Big Mac. While the McPlant is slightly more eco-friendly, it still produces 217 tonnes of CO2 daily. 

Vanarama also researched the least eco-friendly takeaway dishes. Sweet and sour chicken came in first, accounting for 6,309 tonnes of CO2 each day. Fish and chips took second place, followed by salt and pepper chips in third.

These statistics don’t mean that you need to quit fast food and takeaways altogether (I’ll still be demanding a trip to Krunchy’s after a night out). But you can make a few easy eco-friendly changes on your next order

Here are five ways to make your takeaways more sustainable:

  • Choose more eco-friendly restaurants/chains. With a bit of research, you can reduce your carbon footprint by ordering from more sustainable restaurants and fast-food chains. Greggs was found to be the UK’s most eco-friendly takeaway, with the popular Steak Bake, Chicken Bake, and Sausage Roll being the most eco-friendly foods. 
  • Choose vegetarian or vegan options. These dishes aren’t always more eco-friendly, but they do typically take less energy to process.
  • Remove excess packaging. On delivery apps, opt to exclude cutlery, straws, etc. from your order. If you’re picking up your food, bring your own bags and reusable cups to save energy.
  • Recycle. Takeaways usually have a ridiculous amount of packaging so, if you can, recycle it!
  • Collect your food. Try to choose a takeaway that you can walk to. This will save a lot of car CO2 emissions and help to reduce your carbon footprint.

Having your favourite food delivered to your door is too tempting to turn down. But by following these simple steps, you can enjoy your food whilst helping to combat the climate crisis – it’s a win-win. 

Find out more about Vanarama’s research at:

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