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Biodiesel & Recycling Cooking Oil

Converting our recycled cooking oil to fuel into a business asset

McDonald’s strives to find ways to recycle its used cooking oil for operational purposes. For example, in Europe, more than 80% of used oil is currently being converted into biodiesel. About 28% of the fuel used in the European logistics trucks comes from biodiesel. Approximately 37% of this fuel comes from biodiesel generated from used cooking oil, and McDonald's Europe is looking to increase this percentage going forward.

By the end of 2008, McDonald’s UK was recycling 100% of its used cooking oil for biodiesel to fuel delivery trucks in that market. This equates to an emission savings of more than 3,500 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to 1,500 family cars being removed from the road each year.

A holistic approach to recycling oil: Bulk cooking oil delivery and collection

For more than 10 years, McDonald’s USA has worked with our supplier RTI to implement a bulk cooking oil delivery and retrieval program. This program includes delivery of fresh cooking oil to the restaurants in bulk via a portal on the exterior of the restaurant to a large tank in the store. At the same time, waste oil is collected from a separate tank and taken back to a larger distribution facility where it is sold for re-use to a variety of vendors, including biodiesel companies. Today nearly 75% of the eligible U.S. restaurants are enrolled in this program, representing more than 8,675 U.S. restaurants. Additional restaurants are being converted as infrastructure advancements develop.

Today, the average participating U.S. restaurant recycles nearly 11,600 pounds (1,450 gallons) of used cooking oil per year. In addition to more efficient restaurant operations, significant amounts of plastic and corrugated packaging have been eliminated because cooking oil no longer needs to be delivered in 35 pound plastic jugs in corrugated boxes, or “jibs.” This eliminates the creation of packaging in the first place and keeps additional packaging waste from going to the landfill.