These Airport McDonald’s Recycle Fry Oil into Jet Fuel – Here's How

May 18, 2022

There’s something bubbling up at McDonald’s restaurants at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. In 2019, the airport partnered with Neste to collect used cooking oil from on-site restaurants – including five McDonald’s locations – and convert it into low-emission renewable fuels such as sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel.  

McDonald’s Franchisee Chalmer McWilliams, who operates three of those restaurants, said participating in the program was a no-brainer. “When the airport said we are going to do this recycling program, it was so easy to say yes because we can do so much beyond what we imagine," Chalmer explains.

Used oil from his restaurants’ fryers is collected by Neste’s subsidiary, Mahoney Environmental, before it’s treated, returned to Neste and upcycled into renewable fuels that are supplied to airlines across the country. The program is a win-win for Chalmer, who’s happy to see his fry oil get a second life.

“Our cooking oil is used to make our World Famous Fries. If there is another purpose it can serve after we are finished with it, why would we not want to take advantage of that opportunity?” Chalmer says. “Especially if it can become a usable jet fuel to help get people where they need to go.”

Believe it or not, turning used cooking oil into fuel isn’t new for McDonald’s. In the Netherlands, Neste recycles our used cooking oil into fuel, and supply chain partner HAVI uses that fuel to truck products back to McDonald’s. In 2021 alone, McDonald’s in the Netherlands processed nearly 1,000 tons of used cooking oil into renewable biodiesel oil. 

It’s that kind of circular thinking that drove Chalmer to jump at the opportunity to do something more with what he’s got.  

“Recycling has always been a mantra in my family,” Chalmer says. “You go through this earth one time – you have to make sure you are treating it right.”

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