The 8-hour journey from cooking oil to truck fuel

Here’s a fun fact: McDonald’s sells more than 9 million pounds (around 40 lakh kilos) of French fries worldwide per day!

Imagine how many of these are in India alone.

And imagine the amount of cooking oil we end up using in the process.

So, what do you think happens to all the oil left behind after the fries are out from the fryer?

No, we don’t throw it.

Instead, we use it as fuel for our trucks.

We’re the first QSR company in India to power even a part of our logistics fleet with this used oil. And we’re proud to proclaim this on World Biofuel Day!

On 10 August every year, World Biofuel Day shines the spotlight on such non-fossil fuels as biodiesels and generates awareness about their benefits over fossil ones. At McDonald’s, we’re making the most of this occasion to celebrate our efforts in biodiesel production from used oil and identify areas of improvement.

Derived from lipids such as vegetable oil, biodiesel is a renewable form of diesel fuel that is clean and biodegradable. Our cooking-oil-to-biodiesel journey has been on since 2018 when we ran a pilot project at 85 of our stores in Mumbai. It’s a closed-loop production process, as it involves creating something new out of used oil.

We first collect used cooking oil in specially designed containers and despatch it to a converting unit for settling inside large tanks. We wait for smaller, lighter particles to rise to the top and the heavier ones to sink at the bottom before heating the oil and clearing it of water and solids. We then subject the oil to the process of esterification, where alcohol comes into the picture to turn it into biodiesel. After filtration and distillation, the biodiesel is ready to run our delivery trucks. Time taken for the entire cycle: around 6–8 hours.

Today, we convert more than 35,000 litres of used cooking oil into biodiesel every month! What’s more—we’re saving over 4,20,000 litres of crude oil annually! We’re also among the few food companies in India to use 100% pure biodiesel without mixing it with other fuels.

We’re now working towards our goal of fueling our entire fleet with biodiesel made from used cooking oil. It’s all in line with McDonald’s ultimate motto: “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” It’s a long way to go, but we know we’ll get there. Who knows, it could happen before the next World Biofuel Day? Fingers crossed!

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