McDonald's launches first Mideast biodiesel project in UAE

Jul.4th,2011       Visited:      Font Size: Big   Medium   Small

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    The U.S. global fast-food chain McDonald's has jointly launched an initiative with the government of Dubai, the second-largest of seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and a local company to produce 100 percent biodiesel from used vegetable oil, McDonald's said Sunday.
    The initiative was a team effort from Dubai FDI, the foreign investment promotion arm of the Department of Economic Development, McDonald's and Neutral Fuels LLC, a newly established firm to produce environmentally friendly production facilities, Rafic Fakih, managing director and partner of McDonald's UAE told Xinhua.
    "Every of the 90 McDonald's outlets in the UAE will collect its used cooking oil and deliver it to a plant, run by Neutral Fuels LLC in Dubai's economic free zone Jebel Ali," he said.
    "The cooking oil will be transformed into biodiesel which all of our delivery trucks will be tanked with," Fakih added, saying biodiesel is regarded as a cleaner alternative energy source in the face of increasing energy demand as it can be used from organic sources.
    According to him, it is McDonald's first biodiesel project in the Middle East, but not in the world. Globally, the U.S. fast food chain operates in some 100 countries or regions. Fakih expressed his hope that McDonald's UAE would give an example for the entire region.
    Karl Felider, chairman and CEO of Dubai-based Neutral Group, the mother company of Neutral Fuels, explained the advantage of biodiesel, which was first produced in Belgium in 1937 and commercially in Brazil in 1977.
    "Biodiesel is made from a waste product and not made from fossil fuels. It has a much lower carbon footprint than normal diesel. And last but not least the UAE does not have to import biodiesel -- due to the used cooking oil from McDonald's restaurants we can produce it here in the UAE," he said.
    Studies have shown that the exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, from biodiesel are about 47 percent lower than carbon monoxide emissions from diesel.
    "The joint venture between McDonald's UAE and Neutral Fuels LLC underscores the fact that sustainability makes good business sense, " said Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO of Dubai FDI. The project is mostly financed by Dubai FDI.
    According to Neutral Group's Felider, talks are already going on with public transport companies in the UAE, and feasibility studies are made in order to test whether public and school buses could run on biodiesel.
    In recent years, the UAE has launched a number of green initiatives such as the "zero-carbon" city Masdar near Abu Dhabi, the Gulf nation's capital, and the Environment and Energy Park, a center for green-and clean-tech firms in Dubai.
    The UAE also builds four nuclear plants in the west of the country, constructed by Korea Electric Power Corp. and scheduled to produce electricity in 2020.