MCDONALD'S may be viewed as a caring and responsible company that offers high-quality, low-priced food that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. A more jaundiced view would be of a greedy corporation that is willing to junk the environment in order to offer cheap junk food. Such cynicism would not be entirely appropriate. McDonald's could be forgiven for arrogance in view of its immense popularity but the company remains sensitive to bad publicity and has proved responsive to criticism, particularly from environmentalists. That's one reason why McDolphin is unlikely to make its way on to the menu. In the United States and Australia, where the environmental lobby is strong, McDonald's is replacing styrofoam containers with biodegradable materials. In Hong Kong, however, the main pressure on any commercial concern is that of price, which helps to explain the cheapness of Big Macs in the territory. Few people in the territory would boycott the chain because of its environmental policies, but a significant increase in prices would be another matter. It is understandable that McDonald's is moving cautiously: it is a franchise operation and the corporation must consider the position of franchise holders, particularly where pricing policies are likely to be affected. McDonald's is not among the worst offenders. Many small fast-food outlets in Hong Kong aggressively abuse the environment in a way that would be unthinkable for McDonald's. Nevertheless, it is difficult to view McDonald's as particularly environmentally aware if change is driven by public pressure rather than corporate commitment. There is little point in a Mac-philosophy of 're-cycle, re-use and reduce' if food is served in polystyrene containers that are about as environmentally friendly as Mount Pinatubo. A company that has created a revolution in fast food should not be slow to adapt to rising international environmental standards: food could be served in recycled paper wrappers. The company says that in Hong Kong it re-cycles 'on an informal basis behind the counter'. That is an alarming thought as the only way to re-cycle a styrofoam container would be to fill it up again after a customer had left. What McDonald's needs is a coherent international environmental policy, not one that distinguishes between advanced countries and what used to be called the Third World.