Used Cooking Oil – How it benefits the economy and environment?

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Today, we are immersed in an intricately complex world. Things may look simpler on the surface, yet all are interconnected, especially the environment and us. The view of the polluted environment as only a concern concept has changed drastically. In fact, it has become a crucial facet. Thanks to the looming threats of global warming happening on our planet, this existential angst gave rise to sustainable innovations. One such idea is Used Cooking Oil or UCO which acts as a raw material for biodiesel, an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Let’s understand how.

Are you someone who uses the same cooking oil again and again? Well, stop it immediately. Because, when you fry it often its quality deteriorates and embraces carcinogenic substances, a chemical composition that has the ability to cause cancer.

Cooking oil is an indispensable ingredient used widely in Indian recipes. And, every food lover knows that tasty food comes from frying. But, have you ever thought about how these used oils are disposed of? Here, naively you may say it’s disposed of via the kitchen sink. This thought is honest and acceptable, also, a layman’s answer. Even this mis-disposal way causes clogged drains, sewage problems, and a few environmental concerns – which may not look like a big deal.
 

But, do you know? Large oil consumers like hotels and restaurants repack and sell the used cooking oil to smaller units like dhabas, street vendors, and many other eateries for reuse. The Food Safety And Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) states that cooking oil total polar components (TPC) of more than 25% should not be used and is very hazardous. If this standard is compromised, then health problems such as hypertension, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and liver ailments invite themselves into your body. Unfortunately, this is the kind of food we are eating outside just to satisfy our taste buds.

India produces 3 million metric tonnes of used cooking oil each year and 60% of it goes back into the unhealthy food chain, a terrifying fact. To mitigate it, FSSAI implemented Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO) initiative to collect UCO and convert it to biodiesel.

Biofuel is a substantial alternative fuel option as they have the ability to reduce CO2 emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) states that biofuel has the potential to meet ¼th world demand of transportation fuels by 2050, if proper policies and investments are done. Also, one cannot ignore electricity – an imperative energy consumer. Biofuels can reduce upstream emissions in the production of electricity as well.

Energy independence will be achieved only if India overcomes the vulnerable state of energy security. Currently, India uses 102 billion liters of diesel per year. Data suggests that it requires more than 5 billion liters of biodiesel annually to meet the blending targets, and 1.1 billion liters of it can be generated by UCO itself. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) has confirmed that India consumes about 27 billion liters of cooking oil annually, of which 1.4 billion liters can be accumulated alone from large food operators to make a whopping 1.1 billion liters of biodiesel, which is sufficient to meet annual blending targets. Data gives us hope, but reality hits hard.

Challenges like oil mafia operations, not enough feedstock availability, competition from other industries, policy loopholes, ignorance, lack of manpower, and disobeying government guidelines are evident and need to be addressed.

Neste’s Head of Public Affairs in the Asia-Pacific region, Steven Bartholomeusz, stated, “By directing used cooking oil from human consumption to renewables production, India can mitigate the public health risk and combat the climate crisis simultaneously”.

The Government of India has set a target to increase biodiesel consumption by 10 percent each year until 2030. And UCOs are promising and can be a great source for the production of biofuels. All it needs is a proper push from the government and the combined efforts of organizations and people to use its potential fully.

Our green fuel online marketplace – Buyofuel is set to collect used cooking oil and hand it over to biodiesel manufacturers in the country. We need your help to spread the word about used cooking oil adulteration. We’re reaching out to the people around you who are in a position to tackle this issue—the cafe owner, the manufacturer of snacks and drinks, and so on. Do you know anyone like that? If so, let them know that they can make a difference!