Buildings such as hospitals and theatres are to be powered by waste from McDonald's restaurants.
The scheme means the restaurants will send no waste to landfill
Eleven restaurants in South Yorkshire will take part in the scheme, which starts on Wednesday.
Refuse will be turned into electricity and heating for 130 buildings in the county, including the Lyceum theatre and Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield.
McDonald's said the scheme would save each restaurant from sending 100 tonnes of waste to landfill each year.
It will be rolled out across the UK if successful.
Refuse from the restaurants will be collected, treated at a state-of-the-art energy recovery facility and converted into electricity and heat.
Other buildings to benefit from the new recycled energy include Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Park Hill flats, Millennium Galleries and Sheffield City Hall.
McDonald's said it was difficult to recycle waste
The 11 restaurants, in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley, will also trial a range of environmentally friendly technologies and processes, including solar panels, wind power, energy-efficient lighting and a recycling scheme for cardboard.
Steve Easterbrook, president and chief executive officer of McDonald's UK, said: "At the moment, it is difficult for companies like McDonald's to recycle waste.
"Many recycling contractors refuse to take our waste because we cannot remove food from it completely. As a result, we have to send it to landfill."
The Carbon Trust is working with McDonald's to evaluate the success of the project.