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McDonalds begins three year study of cow flatulence

January 11, 2010

McDonalds is to conduct a three-year study into methane emissions from cattle on 350 farms across Britain.

[Source: UK Telegraph and Farmers Guardian]

Flatulent livestock accounts for 4 per cent of Britain’s carbon emissions.

McDonalds UK has 1,200 restaurants in Britain and Northern Ireland, using only British and Irish beef in its burgers. The burger giant, which sources 350,000 cows from over 16,000 British and Irish farms every year, has launched a three-year study to cut methane emissions from its livestock.

It comes after the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, called for the food industry to look at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the government’s 2030 food strategy.

A study carried out in America in 2006 calculated that producing a single cheeseburger involves the emission of around 3.1kg of carbon dioxide.

“This ground-breaking project will help drive further reductions in our beef supply chain,” Steve Easterbrook, chief executive of McDonald’s UK, told the Observer newspaper. “At the same time it should also deliver real financial benefits to the farmer.”

The first readings are due in April and specialist consultants will advise farmers on the best ways to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. If successful, the initiative will be extended to McDonald’s in Europe.

The study, run by rural consultants the Eco2 Project, will measure on-farm emissions and advise farmers how best to reduce their emissions, improve efficiency – and of course, improve returns.

Peter Darlington, director of The Eco2 Project said the beef industry wanted to help meet climate change targets.

“We think we can bring about significant reductions by harnessing the efficiencies of dairy beef, by improving existing suckler cow farming techniques and practices, and by generating further supply chain efficiencies.

“Our advice will help farmers do this by improving their existing farming methods. Relatively small changes can result in carbon savings on beef farms,” he said.

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