When we consider the sheer scale of what needs to be done to minimise our environmental impacts, it’s easy to become demoralised or even cynical about sustainability.
But science-based targets (such as our Net Zero by 2040 goal) are designed to be achievable because they factor in the size of the challenge ahead. At scale, even the smallest adjustments will, over time, help us limit both the global temperature rise and the impact of climate change. It’s therefore up to all of us, from corporations to consumers, to move forward together.
Here are three ways we’re trying to be more environmentally sustainable and how you can play your part.
1. Establish a sustainability mindset
Whether it’s through research and development or small practical changes, for sustainability to work it must be intentional – and this starts with mindset. First, we find the opportunities, then we set the goals, and then we make it happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re designing a race car or planning your meals for the week, adding a sustainability lens to your decision-making helps you make responsible choices that have a wider positive impact.
An example of this at McLaren was in our own factory. In 2021, our factory teams were able to find significant reductions in product and packaging waste including through the installation of a more efficient glue machine. A small shift you might think, but because it requires less refilling, it saves around 1,000 plastic bottles and 5,000 plastic sleeves per year. Last year, we also aligned with F1’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastic from our trackside operations and achieved this goal in the 2021 season.
There are more examples in our Sustainability Report, especially relating to efficiencies in our European races, which reduced our haulage emissions. We know these steps are just the beginning, but without them we wouldn’t have the learnings to apply to other operations and larger projects.
How does sustainability factor into your mindset and approach to daily tasks? Perhaps a mindset shift is the difference between bringing a reusable water bottle to work and buying several plastic bottles a week. Or it might be bringing tote bags to the supermarket instead of buying plastic ones every trip. In the UK we each generate almost 100kg of plastic waste every year. If we each shifted our mindset towards sustainable choices around plastic, just imagine what those small choices could add up to.
2. Engage and influence
Of course, it’s one thing to look for opportunities, but if you’re not convinced about the why, it won’t be long before motivation wanes.
At McLaren, we understand our responsibility both as advocates within our industry and as a brand lucky enough to have a strong relationship with its fans, but we can all do more within our spheres of influence.
A simple thing we can all do is to learn more and talk more about sustainability, especially as it relates to climate change and net-zero carbon goals. Read up on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), understand exactly what targets governments and organisations have signed up to and hold them accountable.
The more we learn about climate change, the more power we have as advocates when talking to family, friends, colleagues and even our favourite brands about making the smallest of changes.
One area we hope our fans will carry the torch for is sustainability at races. While we don’t include fan emissions in our greenhouse gas footprint currently, with F1 fan attendance likely to pass five million for the 2022 season, we can’t sleep on the opportunity to make sustainability-driven improvements to these events in areas such as ticketing, transport and catering. What changes would you like to see at races? How do you think teams can support fans in being more sustainable? The more we talk and engage with these ideas, the faster we can collectively accelerate towards a better future for the planet and our sport.
3. Embrace innovation
We love Formula 1. It’s our lifeblood and our original raison d’être. We love the buzz of race week, the thrill of race day, the fans, the drama, the community. But we also love our planet and we’re excited about new innovations and ventures. At McLaren, as well as looking at innovations in F1 and IndyCar, we’re embracing the possibilities around electric racing and hope that you’ll join us in discovering all it has to offer. This year we made our Extreme E debut and we’re gearing up to join Formula E next season. These racing series are not only exciting and open up racing to new audiences, but they also pave the way for consumer change.
We don’t yet know what’s possible with electric, but as we state in our Sustainability Report, innovation is incremental. We therefore shouldn’t discount the small steps that might eventually lead to meaningful changes on a global scale.
While we hope that these racing series will help us decouple growth from environmental impact, we also know we’re part of an important trend. Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, with the UK, for example, intending to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
Earlier this year, F1 announced that it was on track to introduce sustainable fuels to the championship in 2026. This is a drop-in fuel, which means it can directly replace traditional fuel and could transform the automotive industry for consumers. McLaren is eager to enable the transition to low-carbon energy across all championships, including the use of decarbonised grid electricity at circuits, fuels such as waste vegetable oil or renewably generated hydrogen, and more efficient trackside generators.
We don’t believe that innovation means disconnecting from a glorious history or losing the joy of racing, so we’re asking fans to take a chance on change and get behind technologies that might not feel traditional, but that might transform our sport for the better.
Join the team
McLaren Plus is our free-to-join fan loyalty programme, bringing McLaren fans closer to the team with the most inclusive, rewarding and open-to-all fan programmes in motorsport.
Sign up now, or current members can amend their details in the form below if necessary.