McDonald’s to run its delivery vans on cooking oil in the United Kingdom

July 12, 2007 at 2:22 pm

The fast food chain McDonalds, more commonly associated with greasy, high- caloric meals than saving the environment, has recently decided to go green. In an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint, the restaurant is to now run its delivery vehicles in the United Kingdom on bio-diesel by using a mixture of cooking oil and rapeseed oil. By the end of next year, McDonalds intends to convert all 155 of its UK delivery lorries to be able to run on bio-fuel. This in turn will reduce the company’s carbon emissions by some 1,650 tonnes per annum. This is equivalent to reducing the number of cars on British streets by two thousand.

McDonald’s decision to go green follows numerous trials conducted by the fast food chain and its distribution partner in the United Kingdom, Keystone Distribution. The trials allowed for over 150,000 litres of used cooking and rapeseed oil to be converted into the bio-fuel EN14214. According to McDonald’s Senior Vice President, Matthew Howe, this is not an isolated initiative on the part of the corporation. Speaking last month, he stated that the restaurant’s green program was “a great example of how businesses can work together to help the environment, and is a natural complement to the work we are doing to our delivery schedules to cut food miles and fuel consumption. We don’t intend to stop here. Our work with the Carbon Trust will help us find more ways, big and small, to reduce our carbon impact across the whole of our business.” As such, the restaurant is also looking into a number of other ways to make its operations environmentally-friendly. In an attempt to engage in greener practices, the company now intends to recycle the vast quantities of packaging material it utilizes each day.

However, there is some concern as to the viability of McDonald’s green vehicles. Whilst bio-diesel is one of the most popular sources of renewable energy, vehicle manufacturers are divided about the effectiveness and reliability of this fuel. Many engine manufacturers in the UK only provide warranties if their engines are run on a maximum of 5% bio-diesel combined with 95% conventional fuel. In addition, whilst there is much debate as to the quality of the fast food chain’s meals, they are no doubt relatively inexpensive. It is feared that the costs of running lorries on bio-diesel will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Nevertheless, the advantages of this program should not be underestimated. Aside from the benefit to the environment, there are likely to be other indirect gains to the co-operation. McDonald’s has received much publicity as a result of its green scheme and such publicity will no doubt help the firm to boost its overall sales. Furthermore, given its standing in the corporate world, it is also hoped that the McDonald’s initiative will encourage other large organizations to pursue environmentally-friendly practices as well.

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