McDonald’s in the UAE to Power its Trucks with Used Cooking Oil

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Do you equate McDonald’s with sustainability? I thought not. So this is an oddball news item: the greasy fast-food chain famous for making American obese is now partnering with Dubai-based Neutral Fuels to recycle all the used cooking oil in its deep fat fryers in the United Arab Emirates into a biodiesel fuel for its fleet of trucks.

How much used cooking oil is available? Well, based on today’s rate of chomping down the fatty chain’s McFastFood in the region – and that could go up – it looks like quite a bit. All restaurants throw out a tremendous amount of used cooking oil, but ones like McDonald’s – that deep-fat-fry so much of what they sell – have to throw away even more. And the chain has more than 80 restaurants throughout the United Arab Emirates.

And it looks like Dubai-based Neutral Fuels will be able to keep up with that supply of raw material. The company, the first Middle East commercial producer of biodiesel using used vegetable cooking oil, estimates that it has sufficient capacity to crank out one million liters (264,172 gallons) of biodiesel a year at its Dubai facility and can double that amount if need be.

In an odd-couple partnership, the decidedly unsustainable chain partnered with the region’s main environmental watchdogs, Emirates Environmental Group, to come up with this more sustainable recycling of its waste cooking oil.

All of the more than 80 McDonald’s in the UAE plan to turn to 100 percent biodiesel to fuel their trucks in a waste-to-biodiesel initiative. This is “planned as part of a grand renewable energy scheme in the UAE.” Let’s stay tuned.

When the world’s most unhealthy food business offers “plans” to move in the direction of sustainability, rather than just snigger – we should hold them to it.

Susan Kraemer @Twitter

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