How much oil is used to make one McDonald’s cheeseburger?



  1. 0 Votes

    I assume you’re not talking about the oil in the food itself! Very good question, and it’s difficult to pin down a precise answer, though at the very least it’s about one-fifth of a gallon. National Geographic estimated in a 2004 cover story called “The End of Cheap Oil” that it takes three-quarters of a gallon of petroleum to produce one pound of beef. Consequently, a traditional McDonald’s “quarter pounder” would be one-fourth of that, or about 19% of a gallon–and that’s just the counting petroleum used to feed the cattle, transport it to market, slaughter it and process the meat. Greater energy expenditures are needed for the other ingredients, such as the cheese, special sauce, and bun, not to mention the packaging that the cheeseburger comes in and the fossil fuels needed to power the restaurant that cooks it. McDonald’s Corporation, under constant fire since the 1980s for its environmental record, is extremely circumspect about releasing any hard figures as to their overall energy consumption. However, they have loudly and frequently publicized their efforts to reduce waste in their operations, as well as to shake the image that they promote unhealthy food. Do a web search for “McDonald’s” and “environment” and the first hits likely to come up are documents created by McDonald’s itself touting its environmental record, or press reports on such releases. Regardless of the statistics, the tremendous economic clout that the McDonald’s company possesses around the world makes its policy choices very relevant to the environments of the countries in which it operates.

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