Investing in consumer ‘proximity’ to produce biodiesel from UCO

The company says the project has been successful so far because it made it easier for the consumer to collect and recycle the used cooking oil. [Prasino Ladi / youTube]

A Greek company says it has found a way to collect much more effectively used cooking oil for biodiesel production: by making it easier for consumers to find nearby collection points and avoid simply pouring the used oil down their kitchen sink,

.In 2019, Prasino Ladi (Green Oil) produced 13,600 tonnes of biodiesel from used cooking oils and 9,600 tonnes from animal fats.

The company currently cooperates with approximately 15,000 restaurants across the country in order to collect household UCO. Once used cooking oil is collected, it is transported to a plant in Volos, in the Thessaly region, where it is purified, processed and converted to biodiesel.

Prasino Ladi says the project has been successful so far because it focused on making it easier for the consumer to collect and recycle the used cooking oil.

“We tried to solve the major problem that most households face when they want to recycle their used cooking oil (UCO): Proximity. And indeed, the lack of proximity discourages most citizens from doing so,” Giorgos Kyriakopoulos, the CEO of Prasino Ladi, told EURACTIV.com.

He said the only thing citizens need to do is type their postal code or address on the company’s website. A map will then pop up, showing all the collection points within a two kilometre-radius.

“In most cases, a restaurant or a supermarket or a petrol station or a bio-shop will be located within a few yards from where the interested citizen lives or works,” Kyriakopoloulos said, adding that through this process, citizens eventually become part of the solution in the climate crisis.

Used cooking oil and animal fats are considered advanced biofuels and are part of ANNEX IX of the revised Renewable Energy Directive, which aims to decarbonise EU transport.

Advocates insist that used cooking oil helps reduce greenhouse gases by 88%. “Biodiesel from UCO is still the greenest fuel available commercially,” Kyriakopoloulos said.

“Blocking home drains and city sewages (Fatbergs) are common problems when citizens dispose of their used cooking oil down the sink. Substituting imports of fossil fuels is the main benefit for the national economy,” he added.

However, critics say that UCO may be clean but the investment in the sector is not enough to help the EU meet its climate objectives in transport.

As part of the new European Green Deal, a number of legislation files are expected to be revisited in order to adjust the EU strategies to the new green goals. The revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) is among the pieces of legislation that will be reopened.

“I think the Commission will probably do well to look at it again, whether this is going to lead to a new proposal, or whatsoever,” Artur Runge-Metzger, director of the Commission’s Climate Action directorate, told a EURACTIV event last December.

Kyriakopoloulos emphasised the importance of collecting UCO from restaurants, saying it is now a mature business in Europe.

“Maybe more than 99% of all UCO produced in HORECA (food service industry) and the food industry is recycled into biodiesel. Restaurants benefit a lot since there is a price for the disposed UCO. It is now high time the restaurants themselves participated in a programme that goes beyond their narrow business scope and returns the favour to society,” he concluded.

Greek Energy Minister Costis Chatzidakis recently hailed the initiative, saying it is important that Greek citizens are encouraged to join in.

“It is important that an innovative plan for the collection of waste from our households begins with the cooperation of the citizens,” he said, adding the waste will in turn be transformed with transparency and rules into environmentally friendly fuel.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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