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QSR Feature
The Best of 2009
The industry’s best efforts in sustainability, menu development, expansion, human resources, marketing, and charitable giving.

Green Most Carbon Conscious

McDonald’s Headquarters

The arches might be golden at McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, but everything else about it is decidedly green. The building was designed to be sustainable when it was built in 1988, but new innovations, such as designated parking spots for alternative-fuel vehicles and a new recycling and waste program, helped the building attain LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in February. Earning the highest certification level—held by only 16 other buildings in the world—also helped boost McDonald’s bottom line; execs say the building will recoup the nominal LEED project costs in less than a year.

White Castle’s Packaging

Harold and Kumar are in for a shock the next time they decide to make an epic trek to White Castle. The company’s famous Slyders are still the same, but they’re no longer housed in the same signature white bags. In January, White Castle started switching to brown ones made from 100 percent recycled-content corrugated paper. Now all of the chain’s 421 stores feature the bags, which also are fully recyclable.

Photo: white castle, Bag: ©iStockphoto.com/david franklin

Pizza Fusion’s Uniforms

For Pizza Fusion, offering a menu that’s more than 75 percent organic was an obvious choice. But the company is so passionate about sustainable agriculture that it didn’t stop there. The clothing Pizza Fusion employees wear and even retail shirts sold in stores also are made from entirely organic fabrics. Since it takes about one-third of a pound of pesticides and fertilizers to grow enough cotton for just one T-shirt, that adds up to a lot of good for the environment.

Burgerville’s Drive Thru

When Sarah Gilbert tried to go through a Burgerville drive thru on her bike in August, the restaurant refused to serve her. Gilbert, a blogger, promptly slapped Burgerville with a very public admonishing. Like any good quick serve, the company decided that the customer is always right. Burgerville revisited its policy and enlisted bike-friendly practices at each of its 37 drive-thru lanes, discouraging customer reliance on cars and reducing overall air emissions. Not only do the windows serve bikes now, but each lane is equipped with new signs to alert drivers and bicyclists to safety precautions for bicycle access. Accordingly, Gilbert applauded Burgerville’s quick change of heart on her blog.