This has been a year of tremendous change for fast-food giant McDonald's. In just one example, earlier this year McDonald's announced that it became the first restaurant company to set approved science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thought by scientists to contribute to global climate change.

"Today, McDonald's announces it will partner with franchisees and suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald's restaurants and offices by 36% by 2030 from a 2015 base year in a new strategy to address global climate change. Additionally, McDonald's commits to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity (per metric ton of food and packaging) across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels. This combined target has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)."

According to the company, this new strategy -- a part of its Scale for Good initiative -- will prevent 150 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere by 2030. This is the equivalent of taking 32 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year or planting 3.8 billion trees and growing them for 10 years.

Here are 9 things McDonald's accomplished this past year to build a better company, and a better tomorrow for the world:

  1. Announced goal to source all guest packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sources and goal to recycle guest packaging in 100% of restaurants, recognizing infrastructure challenges, by 2025.
  2. Became the first restaurant company in the world to set an approved Science Based Target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Joined the We Are Still In Leader's Circle, helping to drive ambitious action to mitigate climate change.
  4. McDonald's USA marked five years as the first and only global restaurant company to serve MSC certified fish at every U.S. location.
  5. Joined forces with Closed Loop Partners to develop a global recyclable and/or compostable cup solution through the NextGen Cup Challenge and Consortium.
  6. Executive leaders called for climate action and share solutions at the first Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS).
  7. Co-hosted the "Road to Greenbuild" event with Illinois Green Alliance at its new global headquarters. The building, constructed in partnership with Sterling Bay, McDonald's and Gensler Chicago, received USGBC LEED Platinum certification.
  8. Joined the Chicago Renewable Energy Challenge which ladders up to the brand's climate goals including the use of renewable energy.
  9. Created the McCafé Sustainable Coffee Journey experience to raise consumer awareness around the importance of sustainable sourcing, given the threats climate change poses to crops like coffee.

Clearly, McDonald's is setting the pace for other fast-food companies to follow. Given today's desire by many consumers to spend their hard-earned money with companies that are doing good in the world, where McDonald's leads, others will surely follow.