Has the McDonald’s restaurant chain made significant improvements in recent years with regard to the environment?
— Max Andria, Laval University, Quebec

Long a poster child of environmental ills and health concerns, McDonald’s has worked steadily over the last two decades to clean up its act. The company will never win over vegetarians, who eschew meat for health, animal welfare and even world hunger concerns (we’d feed more people by using the land used to grow animal feed to grow food for people instead), but it has otherwise made some significant strides.

The company first came under fire from greens in the 1980s for sourcing beef for its hamburgers from ranches on newly cleared, former rainforest tracts throughout the Amazon basin. In response, the company committed in 1989 to refuse beef sourced from recently deforested rainforest areas.

Environmentalists were also on the company’s case about the waste it generates. …