What is the global-warming impact of the omnipresent drive-through?

February 25, 2009

Advice about recreational eating

Hey Mr. Green,
What is the global-warming impact of the omnipresent drive-through? Surely this has to be one of our biggest wastes of energy. –Robert in Biglerville, Pennsylvania

In drive-throughs or anyplace, idling is, to summon the old saying, the devil’s workshop. Every hour you idle, you waste up to 0.7 gallons of gas (depending on your engine type) going nowhere. So it pays to turn your engine off if you’re going to be still for more than 30 seconds.

In a given year, U.S. cars burn some 1.4 billion gallons of fuel just idling. Not to mention idling trucks, which waste another 1.5 billion gallons. Collectively, we emit about 58 million tons of carbon dioxide while we’re essentially doing nothing.

Taking the fast-food industry as an example, and taking into account that the average McDonald’s drive-through wait is 159 seconds, we can calculate that the company’s consumers burn some 7.25 million gallons of gas each year. The figure for the entire U.S. fast-food industry? Roughly 50 million gallons.

Though Wendy’s boasts that it zips you through in a mere 131 seconds, that’s about the amount of time it would take to slap together your own sandwich, or dump some leftovers in Tupperware, and bypass the lines (and perhaps a bypass) entirely.

The spread of American idle may be an exciting prospect for companies seeking to expand this lazy food-getting method to the rest of the world–but it’s a devastating one for the environment. Consider that McDonald’s plans to open 25 drive-throughs in China, following KFC’s lead. KFC installed its first drive-through there in 2002 and is working on 100 more. If China and India, which is also jumping aboard the drive-through bandwagon, get up to speed, they can idle away a truly staggering figure: 30 billion gallons of gas. Every year.

http://sierraclub.typepad.com/mrgreen/2009/02/advice-about-recreational-eating-.html

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Wally Kennedy: Convenience consumes 100,000 gallons of gas on Range Line

Not long ago, I wrote about the convenience of drive-through windows. It was specifically in regard to the drive-through at Macadoodles at 17th Street and Range Line Road.
I said you could pick up some spirits there and then drive through interconnecting parking lots to the drive-through windows at Backyard Burgers or Wendy’s. Booze and burgers — sounds like a great combination to me. And so convenient. You wouldn’t have to leave your car to get two of life’s finer necessities. Why, you could wear your pajamas or a bathrobe to both places and no one would be the wiser.

Boy, did I set myself up for a heaping dose of criticism from a reader. My enthusiasm for drive-through windows was tempered by some eye-opening facts that should give us pause to think about the true cost of convenience.

After telling me that she enjoyed this column, the reader then wrote: “In today’s column about the opening of Macadoodles, you promote the use of their drive-through window, as well as the drive-through windows at adjacent restaurants. With so many environmental and economical issues linked to gasoline consumption, the use of drive-through facilities should be discouraged rather than encouraged.”

Oops. And then the other shoe — or should I say boot — fell.

The reader cited a study published in the Transportation Research Record called “Energy Analysis and Alternative Fuels and Vehicles.” It found that an average fast-food restaurant with 2,000 vehicles using the drive-through each week causes the use of more than 57 gallons of gas per week, or more than 2,960 gallons per year.

An average two-lane bank drive-through causes the use of more than 62 gallons of gas per week, or more than 3,200 gallons per year, the study said.

She wrote: “When one extrapolates this data to include the vast number of drive-through windows across our country, it is clear that substantial amounts of extra fuel are consumed and added pollutants released. As consumers, we can choose to park our cars and go inside rather than idling along in drive-through lines. Most of us are physically able to do this, and, in fact, would benefit from the extra steps involved.”

You can’t argue with that. It’s clear that an idling engine gets the worst possible gas mileage — zero miles per gallon. Case closed.

But that got me to thinking. Just how many drive-through windows are there on Range Line Road? This would require the imperfect but reliable science of a windshield survey. I counted 22 drive-through windows between 44th Street and Seventh Street, and 12 between Seventh Street and MacArthur Drive in Webb City, the northernmost end of Range Line. This did not include banks.

So, 34 drive-through windows times 2,960 gallons equals about 100,640 gallons of gasoline idled away each year on Range Line. That’s enough to fill 11 tanker trucks.

The windshield survey was so exhausting that I had to go through the drive-through at McDonald’s to get a soda to quench my thirst. There was no one in line at the time. It took less than two minutes, so my idling time was very limited. I am not a wanton idler.

So here are some things to think about when you use a drive-through window. If there’s a line at the window, avoid it unless you want to waste your money and time. If you have to wait in one spot for more than 10 seconds, turn off your car. Idling for 10 seconds or more uses more fuel than restarting your engine.

There’s a lot more to this idling thing than meets the eye. I intend to revisit this subject in the future. In the meantime, do something good for yourself and the country. Don’t be an idler.

http://www.joplinglobe.com/dailybusiness/local_story_027085633.html?keyword=topstory

Jack in the Box, Wendy’s to outsource drive-through order-takers

10:11 AM CST on Tuesday, January 27, 2009

HOUSTON—Next time you pull up to a fast-food drive-through, the voice you hear could be miles away.

Some restaurant chains, including Jack in the Box and Wendy’s, are giving outsourcing a try.

Orders will be taken from a call center instead of at the restaurants themselves.

The centers will be staffed with dozens of workers.

Jack in the Box said the goal is to be more efficient and accurate, but critics said it’s a way for restaurants to cut jobs.

http://www.khou.com/business/stories/khou090127_tnt_outsourcing.b3bef88.html

Chain Outsources Drive-Through Orders

UPDATED: 10:52 am EST January 27, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A fast-food giant is trying to determine whether its easier to place your drive-through order with someone around the world instead of around the corner.
Jack in the Box Inc. has been testing a program in some Charlotte-area restaurants that outsources order-taking to a call center elsewhere.
Company spokeswoman Kathleen Anthony told the Charlotte Observer that the technology is intended to improve speed, accuracy and service.

The San Diego-based restaurant chain hopes the process will free up on-site employees to process orders, accept payment and address other needs.
Anthony said the orders are routed to a Texas call center operated by Bronco Communications, and she said some orders may be routed outside of the country.

http://www.wyff4.com/news/18564258/detail.html

Outsourcing Of Drive-Thru Order Takers! (Seriously)

From The Charlotte Observer:

“That crackling voice taking your order at a fast-food drive-through may come from a lot farther away than the restaurant: Try Texas,or even overseas.

San Diego-based Jack in the Box has tested outsourced drive-through order-taking since mid-2008 at seven of its 30 Charlotte-area restaurants. Spokeswoman Kathleen Anthony declined to specify the locations, though workers at the Cotswold restaurant in Charlotte recently said their restaurant uses the system.

The technology is intended to improve speed, accuracy and service, freeing up restaurant employees to process orders, accept payment and address other needs, Anthony said. The chain has not reduced staffing as a result of the remote order-taking, and the restaurants can turn the system on and off as they wish, she said.

Still, it’s piqued curiosity among local customers who have encountered heavy accents with order-takers, then rounded the bend to find different people handing them food…”

 

I can’t believe this isn’t a headline for The Onion. Many of already know I have a lot of issues with outsourcing and so called “free trade”, but even those of you who believe the earth is flat have to admit this story is insane.

We’re asking 300 million Americans to compete with over 6 billion people, many of which will work for a couple of bucks a day. I’m all for helping other countries build their economies, but if you haven’t noticed, we need a little help building ours at the moment and unemployment is very high. 

I’m referring to the *actual* unemployment amount, not the bullshit number that don’t include people who’ve given up looking for work or people who can’t get the full time hours they need and or people who’ve been forced to take jobs with shit pay just to avoid losing their house, etc.

And even if you don’t see the very valid and real problems with free trade/outsourcing, hopefully you can acknowledge that outsourcing Drive-Thru order taking jobs is a BAD idea. It’s already impossible to understand what the person is saying over the crackly speaker (and for them to understand you), and this just makes it more likely your order will be wrong and that you’ll end up frustrated or pissed off.

 

http://www.theyoungturks.com/story/2009/1/26/122845/491/Diary/Outsourcing-Of-Drive-Thru-Order-Takers-Seriously-

 

TOP STORY | Wally Kennedy: Drive-thru Convenience consumes 100,000 gallons of gas on Range Line

Published January 27, 2009 08:56 am

Not long ago, I wrote about the convenience of drive-through windows. It was specifically in regard to the drive-through at Macadoodles at 17th Street and Range Line Road.

I said you could pick up some spirits there and then drive through interconnecting parking lots to the drive-through windows at Backyard Burgers or Wendy’s. Booze and burgers — sounds like a great combination to me. And so convenient. You wouldn’t have to leave your car to get two of life’s finer necessities. Why, you could wear your pajamas or a bathrobe to both places and no one would be the wiser.

Boy, did I set myself up for a heaping dose of criticism from a reader. My enthusiasm for drive-through windows was tempered by some eye-opening facts that should give us pause to think about the true cost of convenience.

After telling me that she enjoyed this column, the reader then wrote: “In today’s column about the opening of Macadoodles, you promote the use of their drive-through window, as well as the drive-through windows at adjacent restaurants. With so many environmental and economical issues linked to gasoline consumption, the use of drive-through facilities should be discouraged rather than encouraged.”

Oops. And then the other shoe — or should I say boot — fell.

The reader cited a study published in the Transportation Research Record called “Energy Analysis and Alternative Fuels and Vehicles.” It found that an average fast-food restaurant with 2,000 vehicles using the drive-through each week causes the use of more than 57 gallons of gas per week, or more than 2,960 gallons per year.

An average two-lane bank drive-through causes the use of more than 62 gallons of gas per week, or more than 3,200 gallons per year, the study said.

She wrote: “When one extrapolates this data to include the vast number of drive-through windows across our country, it is clear that substantial amounts of extra fuel are consumed and added pollutants released. As consumers, we can choose to park our cars and go inside rather than idling along in drive-through lines. Most of us are physically able to do this, and, in fact, would benefit from the extra steps involved.”

You can’t argue with that. It’s clear that an idling engine gets the worst possible gas mileage — zero miles per gallon. Case closed.

But that got me to thinking. Just how many drive-through windows are there on Range Line Road? This would require the imperfect but reliable science of a windshield survey. I counted 22 drive-through windows between 44th Street and Seventh Street, and 12 between Seventh Street and MacArthur Drive in Webb City, the northernmost end of Range Line. This did not include banks.

So, 34 drive-through windows times 2,960 gallons equals about 100,640 gallons of gasoline idled away each year on Range Line. That’s enough to fill 11 tanker trucks.

The windshield survey was so exhausting that I had to go through the drive-through at McDonald’s to get a soda to quench my thirst. There was no one in line at the time. It took less than two minutes, so my idling time was very limited. I am not a wanton idler.

So here are some things to think about when you use a drive-through window. If there’s a line at the window, avoid it unless you want to waste your money and time. If you have to wait in one spot for more than 10 seconds, turn off your car. Idling for 10 seconds or more uses more fuel than restarting your engine.

There’s a lot more to this idling thing than meets the eye. I intend to revisit this subject in the future. In the meantime, do something good for yourself and the country. Don’t be an idler.

http://www.joplinglobe.com/dailybusiness/local_story_027085633.html?keyword=topstory

Denialism | Restaurant industry commends St. John’s City Council on drive-through decision

Restaurant industry commends St. John’s City Council on drive-through decision

    ST. JOHN'S, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices
Association (CRFA) commends City Council in St. John's, Newfoundland for
taking a co-operative, consultative approach on solving traffic problems and
rescinding its ban on drive throughs.
    City Council lifted the two-week-old moratorium on drive-through outlets
on Monday.
    "Restaurant owners that operate drive throughs are very sensitive to the
needs of the community when it comes to traffic congestion, and want to work
with municipalities to help solve any issues," says Luc Erjavec, CRFA Vice
President for Atlantic Canada. "We are delighted that St. John's will work
with us to solve the problems instead of banning drive throughs."
    Business owners are typically required to do rigorous site planning and
traffic pattern studies before requesting permission to build a drive through.
Older sites, however, often need updating to handle traffic congestion and
customer demand.
    "Occasionally an outlet is the victim of its own success," Erjavec says.
"As more customers come to the outlet, some site adjustments may be needed to
meet the increased demand."
    Tim Hortons Senior Vice President/Atlantic Region John Montgomery says
his company is always willing to work cooperatively with any community that is
facing a traffic issue.
    "We don't want customers waiting in the drive-through line a minute
longer than necessary or lineups spilling out on to the street impeding
traffic," Montgomery says. "There are many options available to speed up
customer service and reduce traffic congestion, such as restructuring parking
lots or re-routing drive-through lanes."
    Montgomery says drive throughs provide an important service to the
community, particularly for those who may face challenges going into the
restaurant such as people who are mobility impaired, parents with young
children, the elderly or people who are in unfamiliar areas late at night or
in bad weather.
 
For further information: Luc Erjavec, CRFA Vice President, Atlantic
Canada, (902) 209-0804 or lerjavec@crfa.ca; Jeni Armstrong, CRFA
Communications Specialist, (416) 649-4254 or jarmstrong@crfa.ca

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2009/20/c9065.html