logo ecomovimento

EcoMovimento: Recycling used cooking oils as a step towards decarbonization

Revista Spot

Used Cooking Oil

With an efficient used cooking oil collection network that reaches more and more counties, for the sake of the environment and progressively more decarbonized mobility, EcoMovimento undertakes the mission of making the habit of recycling cooking oil as normal as recycling plastic, glass or paper, in a true 'revolution of consciousness'. Hugo Rocha and José Fernandes, the company's CEO and Communications Director, continue to highlight the importance of the circular economy trilogy, conversion to biofuel and reducing environmental impact.

oleo alimentar usado

Has there been notable progress in terms of domestic collection of used cooking oil (UCO) in Portugal?

HR: Without a doubt. We began our activity in 2011, dedicated almost exclusively to the HORECA sector. In 2020, and with the pandemic slowing down the collection of used cooking oil in this particular sector, we launched GOTA, equipment developed for the collection of used cooking oil produced in the domestic sector, a bet that allowed us to reach around 1,200,000 Portuguese. Produced from recyclable plastic, GOTA became the starting point for a new phase.

oleao gota

After a solid presence in the HORECA sector, we ‘entered’ people homes. We noticed that there is a growing interest on the part of counties in recycling used cooking oils, and we have received more and more contacts from individuals wanting to know more about UCO recycling. We clearly know that part of the path is done, but there is a much larger part to be done. More than half of the UCO that is produced in our homes still remains to be collected.

Do the Portuguese people have a more ‘green’ mindset? Is there a revolution of consciousness taking place?

JF: Communication and awareness have been essential. We work on our communication daily in order to raise awareness among more and more people, both through our social media channels, but also through participation in events and awareness-raising actions. We believe in the power of integrated communication to reach all consumers. Our tips and pictograms demystify all doubts and provide the necessary information for correct treatment of used cooking oils. We want the process to be simple, but for people to understand some essential rules.

HR: And when we are talking about a residue that is relatively new, the community needs much more awareness. I remember always finding recycling bins on public roads to be able to recycle, but oil containers are still a big novelty that requires a lot of awareness raising work.

JF: A positive indicator is the fact that we receive a lot of calls from residents who help us to provide a better service. In other words, we already have people asking us for a GOTA near their areas of residence. Counties play a leading role in this task of reaching more and more people.

What impact did your activity have in 2022?

HR: In 2022 we grew around 40% in the volume of UCO processed compared to 2021. Therefore, we are recycling UCO that would never be recycled if it weren't for our activity. It is much more urgent to recycle what is not currently being recycled, than to recycle what is already recycled. Therefore, from an environmental point of view, the gains are enormous.

oleo alimentar usado

This seemingly simple gesture has a huge impact on our quality of life and the survival of the planetary ecosystem…

JF: A single liter of frying oil can pollute around a million liters of water – what a person consumes approximately in 14 years of life. In addition to the risk of clogging of pipes, when disposed of uncontrollably through urban sewers, UCO constitutes a potential danger of contaminating soil and water, compromising the longevity of their ecosystems.

HR: This uncontrolled disposal makes the work of Wastewater Treatment Plants difficult and costly. These are expenses that counties incur for not recycling UCO. A waste that, moreover, can be converted into new energy: biofuel.

Do you attach increasing importance to the digitalization of your methods, particularly the mobile App, to facilitate fluid communication?

JF: The objective is to make UCO recycling a simple and quick process for the consumer. The more we digitize our processes, the easier it will be to communicate, namely with the HORECA and Industrial sector and Counties. We seek to convey more and more information through all the channels and digital tools we have.

app ecomovimento

How have you been improving your internal processes?

HR: Every year we have more elements to evaluate our activity and understand where we can optimize processes: from planning to communication, including logistics and UCO treatment. On the other hand, we want to be a facilitator for the user as well. In the Horeca sector, we work with our own fleet. In addition to the used cooking oil collection service, we provide an additional cleaning service for the exhaustion filters. We want to make our service increasingly efficient and integrated.

What are the main advantages of recycling UCO?

JF: The important trilogy: circular economy, conversion to biofuel and reduction of environmental impact.

Are there special precautions to be taken?

JF: Let the oil cool, place it in a plastic bottle of up to 7 liters, removing, if possible, any food remains, and place it in the nearest GOTA. UCO should never be poured directly into GOTA, nor waste other than used cooking oil placed in it, in order to avoid possible contamination.

Do we now have more counties covered by EcoMovimento?

HR: We currently cover 16 counties in the North and Center area of Portugal, with around 1000 GOTA on public roads. The objective is to grow sustainably that allows us to continue to ensure quality collection.

By recycling UCO are we also contributing to the country meeting European targets for waste treatment, use of renewable energy and biofuels?

HR: EcoMovimento collection team collects used cooking oils and sends them to its production unit, where the UCO is treated and refined, and is subsequently sent to treatment centers where it is mostly transformed into biofuel. Biodiesel is a cleaner energy in terms of emissions, with a clear benefit for the environment. European standards are increasingly encouraging, it is expected that the amount of 

oleao gota paredes

biofuel to be incorporated into diesel will increase, with this action always being limited to the availability of used cooking oil. More than 90% of used cooking oil, which is collected by operators, currently reaches large biofuel producers.

Are there still many opportunities for growth in the sector?

HR: Completely, especially if we talk about UCO recycling in the domestic sector. From the north to the south of Portugal, we still find many counties that do not have recycling solutions for used cooking oil. Portugal has a number of good operators providing this service, so at this moment there is no reason why these entities cannot have a solution to recycle used cooking oil produced in the domestic sector.

What are the big goals for 2023?

HR: Continue to work with the same social and environmental responsibility, in harmony with our team, our suppliers and our customers.

Is it still essential to educate younger people?

HR: Yes. We consider the younger audience to be a very important vehicle for information.

JF: Through our School Project, O Oleão Vai à Escola , we intend for younger audiences to take this information home and to raise awareness about the recycling of used cooking oils. We launched challenging programs like Liga dos Oleões in order to reach more and more families. We currently have more than 300 partner schools in the districts of Braga and Porto. Furthermore, we believe that new generations have the power to reverse the environmental education current state, promoting good recycling habits at home, for a better tomorrow for humanity, in favor of preserving the Earth that we all have in common.

See the article in Revista Spot.

Tag :

o oleão vai à escola, GOTA, used cooking oil

Share on:

Recent articles

Ask for more information!