Can french fries help close the loop?

That’s the suggestion from Antti Koivisto, Head of Service Development within Renewable Road Transportation at Neste who spoke to FNZ about the biofuel that powers McDonald’s Dutch fleet

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Can used cooking oil from french fries help decarbonise the logistics of a fast-food giant?

Antti Koivisto, Head of Service Development within Renewable Road Transportation at Neste said yes in a conversation with FNZ about an ambitious project to power McDonald’s stores in the Netherlands with a biofuel made from old frying oil for potato chips.

He explains this project managed to ‘close the loop’ for more than 250 restaurants in the country: “We collect the cooking oil from these restaurants, we take it to our refinery to Rotterdam, where we produce the renewable diesel. Then it goes to the logistics company HAVI that serves McDonald’s.”

The project aims to help McDonald’s minimise the carbon footprint of its logistics chain by lowering the carbon emissions emitted from the journeys of the trucks.

Every week McDonald’s Netherlands offers meals to almost 3.2 million guests.

But how much cooking oil from french fries is needed for a ten-kilometre drive?

Mr Koivisto says: “We can say from one litre of used cooking oil you can get one litre of renewable diesel. So for ten kilometres, depending on the engine and vehicle you are driving, a usual truck consumes 30 litres per hundred kilometres, so its around three litres.”

Mr Koivisto says the amount of used cooking oil Neste is refining into renewable diesel is enough to power the logistics of McDonald’s in the Netherlands: “All food that goes in from warehouses to restaurants is shipped with this biofuel. Our renewable diesel is refined from waste and residues and other renewable raw materials and the carbon reduction which can be achieved by using it is up to 90% over the fuel’s life cycle compared to fossil diesel.”

He notes this technology can be used to all diesel engines without the need for any upfront investment and can be applied to a wide range of sectors, including aviation, polymers and chemicals like plastics.