MELBOURNE, Thursday 13 June 2024 — Greenpeace Australia Pacific activists dressed as koalas have climbed an iconic McDonald’s store in Melbourne, kicking off a campaign highlighting the fast food giant’s failure to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain.

A banner reading ‘Take Deforestation off the Menu’ was dropped under the golden arches of the iconic Clifton Hill store around 3pm with the koalas, driven from their trees by bulldozers, attracting the attention of onlookers.

The ‘Take Deforestation off the Menu’ campaign launch spotlights the role of McDonald’s, one of Australia’s biggest beef purchasers, in driving deforestation and nature destruction. Independent research commissioned by Greenpeace revealed 668,665 hectares of threatened koala habitat was bulldozed for beef production in the last five years alone  — 2,400 times the size of Sydney CBD. 

In a shocking video from industry event Beef Week in Rockhampton, a senior McDonald’s executive confirmed the company does not monitor deforestation down to a property level and does not exclude purchasing beef from deforested properties. He also confirmed McDonald’s is using a weak definition of deforestation to monitor forest destruction.

Australia has one of the worst rates of deforestation in the world, driven primarily by the bulldozing of forests for beef cattle grazing. Australian beef supplies 65% of McDonald’s stores globally meaning that customers around the world could be eating burgers from threatened koala habitat that was bulldozed for beef production. As global markets including the EU move rapidly towards deforestation-free beef, Australia’s big beef purchasers will need to prove there is no deforestation in their supply chains.

Gemma Plesman, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said despite the glossy marketing campaigns, McDonald’s is failing to adequately address the destruction of forests and nature in its supply chain.

“Right now the beef industry in Australia is killing native wildlife and the big beef purchasers are corporations like McDonald’s, whose customers would be shocked to learn their Big Mac is fuelling the deforestation crisis and pushing globally-iconic animals like the koala to the brink of extinction.

“Our Deforestation Scorecard assessed 10 of Australia’s biggest beef purchasers, including McDonald’s, against their commitment towards being deforestation-free by 2025 and every single one failed. 

“Given deforestation has been a persistent issue in Australian beef supply chains for decades, this seriously calls into question the environmental performance of companies like McDonald’s who can not say with certainty their products are not linked to forest destruction.

“We’re sick of the PR spin from big corporations that have no idea where their beef comes from — deforestation is happening on their watch.

We’re calling on McDonald’s to publicly aim for, and achieve, conversion and deforestation-free supply chains by 2025, using global best practice definitions, which includes protecting important regenerated forest and threatened species habitat. 

“If big corporations like McDonald’s take action to change their practices, we can stop the destruction of our native wildlife and the places they call home — a vital step towards achieving the government’s election commitment to ‘no new extinctions’ in Australia.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kate O’Callaghan on +61 406 231 892 or Kimberley Bernard on +61 407 581 404

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