McDonald’s boosts biofuel generation with grease recovery partnership

Miele claims that the move will boost McDonald’s annual biofuel production by one-fifth

The restaurant chain has been sending the used grease from its fryers for reprocessing into biofuel for its own fleet for more than a decade, having installed grease recovery units (GRUs) at all of its UK locations. The new deal will see oil pulled from its used mops, towels and cleaning cloths for recycling.

In order to capture the grease, Miele will update the washing machines which it hosts at 1,300 McDonald’s restaurants across the UK to fit them with more modern grease filters, newer hoses, more efficient silicone door seals and lower temperature settings. The roll-out process began this month and will take around 12 months to complete.

Miele claims that the move will boost McDonald’s annual biofuel production by 20% once the full roll-out is complete.

A further benefit of the laundry technology, the company claims, is that it minimises the risk of fatbergs – large masses of waste which collect in sewers after waste such as grease, wet wipes and nappies are flushed into the system – developing in the local water networks around McDonald’s stores.

“Miele continues to assist us with our washing requirements to make our grease recovery process more effective and help McDonald’s Restaurants become more sustainable,” McDonald’s building services consultant Dave Holden said.

“The introduction of the GRUs has enabled us to service more of our vehicle fleet with biofuel and with further modifications we expect this to increase further.”

Alternative fuel transition

McDonald’s has been using closed-loop biodiesel made from its own grease to power its UK delivery fleet since 2007, with similar recycling schemes now underway in most of the company’s international markets.

Across Europe, around 80% of the company’s waste grease by volume was successfully reprocessed into biofuel last year – equivalent to 28% of the fuel used annually across its road fleet. McDonald’s has said that it wants to increase this percentage, but is yet to set time-bound commitments. 

As the shift towards low-carbon transport continues to gather pace – and with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and air travel remaining two of the most challenging sub-sectors to decarbonise – McDonald’s is just one in a string of companies to have invested in biofuel made from waste oil in recent times.

International aviation firm Air BP, for example, recently partnered with alternative fuel firm Neste in to co-develop innovations that will boost the supply and availability of sustainable aviation fuel. Among these innovations is Neste’s Biojet – an innovative fuel which is created by blending conventional, fossil-based kerosene with renewable hydrocarbons produced from recycled cooking oil.

As for road transport, recycled cooking oils have been used to produce biofuels for the likes of Forest Green Rovers Football Club, United Biscuits, TGI Friday’s and Carluccio’s.

Sarah George

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