MailOnline has had a sneak peak of the first ever ‘net zero’ McDonald’s restaurant ahead of its opening today.  

The new branch, based in the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, acts as a ‘blueprint’ for future restaurants around the country, the fast food giant says.

It’s packed with environmentally-friendly features such as a Drive-Thru lane made from recycled tyres, wall art made from recycled polystyrene cups and kerb stones out of recycled plastic bottles.

Recycled IT equipment, such as printers and monitors for computers and other electronic devices are used to make building cladding. 

McDonald’s however, stated to MailOnline that it will continue to serve beef on the menu if it can be sustainably sourced. This despite knowing that a shift to plant-based foods would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

McDonald’s UK & Ireland currently has around 1400 locations. to slash carbon emissions to become entirely ‘carbon neutralIt announced it in October.  

Globally, the company wants to reach net zero emissions – meaning its greenhouse gas emissions are removed from the atmosphere through reduction measures – across the world by 2050, but in the UK and Ireland its net-zero target has been set a decade earlier, for 2040.

Even sooner – by 2030 – all newly-built McDonald’s stores in the UK and Ireland will be net zero, designed following the blueprint of the new Market Drayton store. 

At first glance the new branch (pictured) looks rather like any other, but it features a range of subtle environmentally-friendly design features, including kerb stones each made from recycled plastic bottles and a Drive-Thru lane made from recycled tyres. In the background you can see one of the on-site wind turbines that provides about 15 per cent of the branch's energy needs along with solar panels on the roof

At first glance the new branch (pictured) looks rather like any other, but it features a range of subtle environmentally-friendly design features, including kerb stones each made from recycled plastic bottles and a Drive-Thru lane made from recycled tyres. You can also see the solar panels, as well as an on-site wind generator that supplies about 15% of the branch’s energy needs.

The new restaurant has been 'deliberately designed to retain the familiar McDonald's look and feel', the fast food giant says, and features design materials including sustainably sourced timber and recycled plastic

McDonald’s claims that the restaurant’s new design ‘deliberately designed’ to maintain the McDonald’s brand’s iconic look and feel. The interior features materials like recycled plastic and sustainably sourced wood.

The first 'net-zero' McDonald's restaurant in the UK is on the western edge of Market Drayton, on a patch of land between the A53 and Shrewsbury Road

The first ‘net-zero’ McDonald’s restaurant in the UK is on the western edge of Market Drayton, on a patch of land between the A53 and Shrewsbury Road


Net zero means achieving an equal balance of emissions created and removed from the atmosphere.

Net-zero organisations should be actively reducing their emissions aligned to a 1.5ᵒC science-based target in line with the Paris Agreement.

Some carbon emissions cannot be reduced with the current technology. To achieve net zero it is important to have certified greenhouse gas emission reductions.

According to the UK government, it has committed itself to offset the UK’s carbon emissions by taking out the same amount from the atmosphere.

There are two main ways this can be achieved – by planting more trees and by installing ‘carbon capture’ technology at the source of the pollution.

Carbon Trust 

The new Market Drayton branch, dubbed its ‘greenest yet’, is on a patch of land between the A53 and Shrewsbury Road, close to business units owned by dairy product manufacturer Müller at the west of the town. 

It stocks all the regular items that you’d expect in a usual McDonald’s restaurant, including the new ‘McPlant’ burger, which was first released in the UK in September and is still rolling out to all restaurants around the UK.

‘Within the UK, we are working towards 2030 for our restaurants and offices being net zero emissions,’ Gareth Hudson, UK & Ireland development director at McDonalds, told MailOnline over a McPlant in the new restaurant.

The restaurant serves as an example of how to make a mark in the sand. Both new and established restaurants must be carbon neutral.

Net zero refers to any emission that would be offset with schemes such as using carbon capture and storage technology or planting trees.  

Hudson stated that the new branch was the first McDonald’s worldwide to be net zero both in construction and in ongoing operation.

However, he admitted that there are aspects of the site that the ‘carbon neutral’ label doesn’t cover – namely, emissions from vehicle exhausts in the Drive-Thru lane as customers place and wait for their order.

The site is also on the edge of town, meaning customers need to switch on their engines and drive to get there, rather than having the option of walking – hardly a environmentally-friendly design innovation. 

But Hudson said a restaurant on the edge of town is ‘reflective of our estate’ – in other words, McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and predominantly on the edge of town with a Drive-Thru lane.  

It’s undeniable that the new branch has a number of ingenious design features – at first glance the Drive-Thru lane looks like it’s made from tiny pebbles, but actually it consists of blitzed up bits of old vehicle tyres.

The Drive-Thru lane is also permeable – meaning any rain that falls through the tyres gets collected underground and is used to flush the customer toilets. 

Other innovations at Market Drayton include wall art made from recycled polystyrene cups, fixed in place with potato starch from McDonald’s potatoes, while the interior furniture is heavy on sustainably sourced timber and recycled plastic.

Wall art that says “Ground Coffee” is partly also made of used coffee beans. 

From a Drive-Thru lane made from recycled tyre and wall art made from used coffee beans (pictured), the new restaurant acts 'as a testing site for industry-first innovations' McDonald's says

The new McDonald’s restaurant is a test site for industry-first innovation, with a drive-thru lane constructed from recycled tyres and wall art from coffee beans (pictured). 

Renewable power from two wind turbines and 92sqm of solar panels - producing 60,000 kWhs of power per year, and reducing the amount of energy the restaurant draws from the grid

Two wind turbines generate renewable power and solar panels cover 92sqm. This produces 60,000 kWhs per year and reduces the energy that the restaurant uses from the grid.

Image taken by drone shows an aerial view of the new McDonald's store, which opens to the public today - Friday, December 10

A drone image shows an aerial view from the McDonald’s new store. It opens today, Friday, December 10.

At the Market Drayton branch, around 15 per cent of total power used – about 60,000 kWhs of power per year – comes from its own solar panels on the roof and two on-site wind turbines, while the rest is purchased and totally renewable.  

McDonald’s uses British sheep’s Wool to help retain heat.

All outdoor furniture, including benches, is made with 100 per cent recycled plastic. This means that it can be recycled many years later. 

Although they look similar to concrete, Kerbsides are actually made of recycled plastic bottles. McDonald’s claims that this reduces the amount of CO2 emissions per kerbstone by more than 25 kg compared with standard concrete curbs. 

Calcium carbonate is used to make normal concrete. It’s broken down into calcium oxide and calcium CO2 during construction. To heat the kilns, this process uses fossil fuels. 

McDonald’s has also begun to buy only renewable electricity, which it uses in its many restaurants. It is turning its cooking oil into fuel and rolling out electric vehicle charge points. 

Market Drayton’s new branch does not have many EV chargers, but they may increase their number as more people move away from diesel and polluting petrol vehicles.  

Rainwater will be collected and used to flush toilets at the new branch, McDonald's told MailOnline at a press day prior to the official opening on Friday

McDonald’s explained to MailOnline that rainwater will be used for flushing toilets in the new location. This was stated by McDonald’s during a press conference prior to Friday’s official opening.

The car park is dotted with electric vehicle (EV) charging points. The company admitted it can't account for the carbon emissions that come from customers' petrol and diesel cars

There are many charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) in the car park. According to the company, it is unable to account for carbon emissions from diesel and petrol cars. 

The new site includes a play pen with 80 per cent recycled and 100 per cent recyclable green panels. The site will soon have an adjacent biodiversity garden and nature trail designed by schoolchildren

New site features include a playpen with recycled 80 percent and recyclable 100 percent green panels. Soon, the new site will have a biodiversity garden adjacent and a nature trail that was created by schoolchildren.

In terms of menu items, the Market Drayton branch is no different to other McDonald’s restaurants around the company – it’s stocked with meat products including the famous Big Mac.  

McDonald’s vice-president for supply chain, Beth Hart said that she was not able to discuss any plant-based alternatives. But, much will depend on how McDonald’s customers respond to McPlant.

Do you believe that the menu we serve in 2040 and 2030 will have the same look as today? It probably will if McPlant takes off – we could have other little members of the McPlant menu in future.’

The McPlant patty is made out of pea protein, rapeseed oil, potato starch, rice protein and other ingredients but it has a good smokey aroma that’s not too far from the real deal. 

Along with a slice of vegan cheese, gherkins, sauce and sesame bun, it does a decent job of impersonating the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. 

McDonald’s currently ranks as the number one beef buyer in the world. Around 80 percent of McDonald’s emissions are due to its supply chain. This includes its use beef, poultry, and dairy products. 

Pictured, the new McPlant burger. The McPlant burger patty is made using ingredients including pea protein, rapeseed oil, coconut oil, potato starch, rice protein, stabiliser, flavouring and water

This is the McPlant Burger. McPlant’s burger patties are made with ingredients such as pea protein and rapeseed or coconut oil. They also include potato starch, stabilizer, flavoring, water, and rice protein.

Soy, fungi and other vegan alternatives to meat help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a problem that has been exacerbated by the infamously high number of cattle-based greenhouse gases.  

According to the carbon calculator Plate up for The Planet, one Big Mac equals driving almost eight miles.

However, McDonald’s is in no rush to overhaul its menu with plant-based alternatives, and will merely follow the desires of its customers, according to Hart – although she said the company is committed to sourcing its meat sustainably, such as more ingredients from local producers. 

MailOnline explained that they aren’t on a path to completely phase out beef. They’re instead on a road map for sustainable beef. The UK’s and Ireland’s beef are the most sustainable on the planet, so we’re already off to a strong start. 

McDonald’s plans to establish a “biodiversity and nature trail” at the Market Drayton site. This was created in partnership with a local school. 

Inside the restaurant is a plan for a biodiversity garden and nature trail, which is set to be opened next to the site in spring 2022

Inside the restaurant is a plan for a biodiversity garden and nature trail, which is set to be opened next to the site in spring 2022

It will open spring 2019 and be home to a variety of wildlife, including insects.  

In October, McDonald’s unveiled its ‘Plan for Change’ programme – a multi-point sustainability strategy to achieve its aim of net zero emissions across its entire UK and Ireland business, including its value chain, by 2040. This plan is 10 years ahead than McDonald’s goal to make the world carbon neutral by 2040. 

All furniture used in refurbished and new restaurants will come from recycled materials or have been certified. 


2021: McDonald’s UK & Ireland will launch its first restaurant built to a UK industry net zero emissions standard in Shropshire. It will open in November and be the first restaurant built to meet the UK’s net zero emissions standard.

2024: McDonald’s UK & Ireland customer packaging will be made from renewable, recycled or certified sources and designed to be recyclable or compostable. 

2025: McDonald’s UK & Ireland will be a market leader in vegan plant-based food, beginning with the recent launch of the 100 per cent vegan McPlant burger.

By 2025, it will reduce the plastic used in more than 1 million toys sold worldwide each year. 

2030: McDonald’s UK & Ireland will have helped one million people gain new skills and open doors to jobs. As part of this, McDonald’s UK&I will have supported 3,000 apprentices by 2025 and have introduced a youth worker into every UK restaurant by 2024. 

McDonald’s UK & Ireland will aim to achieve net zero emissions for all its restaurants and offices.

2040: McDonald’s UK & Ireland will aim to achieve net zero emissions across its entire business by addressing all the ways it impacts the climate, and significantly reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions.

2050: McDonald’s will achieve net zero emissions globally.