linus52, thanks for your comments. The article states that, in the US, the *average* participating restaurant recycles 1,450 gallons of used cooking oil per year. The total is obviously a lot larger than that.
Many large companies like McDonald's have instituted sustainability programs--and then actually done something about sustainability, such as this--because of overwhelming consumer demand. At least, that's what the bioplastics and biofuels companies, and the research firms, tell me. Generally speaking, companies with sustainability programs figure out what steps they can take that will either eventually save money, or at least not spend more than they're doing with existing solutions, which makes sense. Because of this, a lot of good has been done, and new technologies have been invented and/or proven out. All good.
Theres some comfort in learning that they actually change the cooking oil every now and then. Not every falafel bar does this on a consistent basis.
It would be interesting to learn how much energy derived from conventional fossil fuel is required to refine the used oil into IC-engine worthy biodiesel. The saving might not be as great as it appears at first. In fact, un-refined oil could be used to generate electricity via steam turbines to power the deep-fryers, thus saving at the other end of the chain.
Glad I'm not the only one who's read that book. What I'm hoping is that McDonald's program will serve as a huge test case for this kind of biofuel, and help shake out any kinks in the related processing or other technologies, as well as serve as a very public example that showcases what biofuels can do.
Yes, I know how horrible McDonalds is and am familiar with that book...terrible, eh? And like you, I still don't really support them as a company. But even if they are doing this for business purposes and not altruistically, hopefully it will have a positive impact on the environment and biofuel endeavors...
Elizabeth, I never eat at McDonald's or any other junk food outlet. Which is probably why I didn't know they'd started a huge biofuel program. I wouldn't say this has made me a supporter--they've almost single-handedly changed American agriculture, and not for the better (see a book called Fast Food Nation). But, as the reporter in the Green Prophet said last year, covering this story when it began, about the effects of all that methane from beef, "...McDonalds has to take these measures since their business has, overall, such a detrimental environmental impact." http://www.greenprophet.com/2011/07/uae-mcdonalds-greases-its-100-biodiesel-delivery-fleet/
Wow, I never thought I'd be a supporter of McDonald's, given how I feel about fast food and that industry's ethical and environmental practices in general...but this is really great! It's really good to see a big company like this take the lead on using recycled materials for fuel. Let's hope others follow! Thanks for covering this, Ann...super-interesting stuff.
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In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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