15.05.2018 | Axpo and McDonald's have been cooperating since 2009

A Big Mac becomes energy

There are some 26,000 restaurants in this country, and they diligently prepare, fry and cook various foods. This also holds true for the 166 McDonald’s restaurants in Switzerland. They produce large quantities of peelings and organic kitchen waste. What guests don't know: This is where the sustainable energy cycle begins.

Many of us have a compost pile at home or dispose of organic waste through the town green waste collection service. Restaurant chains like McDonald's also take advantage of this service. Tomato cuttings, wilted salad and other products that no longer fulfil the internal quality standards find their way to the compost in all 166 Swiss McDonald's restaurants. "Per guest we have about 13 grams of food waste, of which 100% is composted and recycled as biogas. The sustainable use of resources, and in this case organic kitchen waste, is very important to us," emphasises Heinz Hänni, Environmental Manager of McDonald's Switzerland.

The 166 McDonald's restaurants in Switzerland produce 12-13 tonnes of organic kitchen waste every week.
Biogas is CO2-neutral

At the plant in Utzenstorf, the organic waste goes through a fermentation process that gradually produces energy-rich methane gas and carbon dioxide. Axpo transforms these biogases into natural gas quality and feeds it into the gas network. McDonald's logistic company operates a vehicle fleet comprising three lorries that run on biogas. This completes the cycle and creates a positive environmental footprint - driving with biogas produces no CO2 emissions.

Biogas as one of the products from fermentation can be further processed: the biogas can be used to turn turbines and generate power. The pressed compost from the fermentation process is also turned into liquid fertiliser for agriculture – as fertiliser, the organic kitchen waste helps grow new lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

«The energy from McDonald's weekly supply covers the annual power consumption of 58 households.»
Denis Kobler, Operations Manager Fermentation Plants Western Switzerland
Burger leftovers are transformed into power for 58 households

Since 2009, Axpo has been collecting these energy-rich leftovers from the restaurant chain. Every week, an average of 12 to 13 tonnes of organic waste is collected from the restaurant giant and transported to the fermentation facility in Utzenstorf in the Canton of Berneone of Axpo's 15 plants.
"The energy from McDonald's weekly supply covers the annual power consumption of 58 households. In total, around 230 people will benefit from the burgers for one year" explains Denis Kobler, Operations Manager Fermentation Plants Western Switzerland.

Denis Kobler, Operations Manager Fermentation Plants Western Switzerland

What the process from burger to biogas looks like also interested our moderator Marco Fritsche. In the following film, he traces the process (only in German):

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