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There is clearly a parallel market in the collection of Used Cooking Oils

ABA - Advanced Bioenergy Association

Used Cooking Oil

EcoMovimento is a company specialized in the operation and management of waste, specially used cooking oils (UCO), refining them and sending them to the biofuel industry.
We spoke with Hugo Rocha, company manager, who tells us about a parallel market that may be growing in this sector.

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Briefly analyze the cooking oil collection sector in Portugal.

Used cooking oils are produced in three distinct sectors: HORECA (hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc.), industrial and domestic. UCO produced in the HORECA and industrial sectors are mostly collected. UCO produced in the domestic sector has low collection rates as there are many Municipalities that do not provide a UCO collection network for citizens, contrary to what is provided for by law.

Portugal is equipped with a sufficient number of good Waste Management Operators who carry out this collection, and I believe that the logistics capacity installed in Portugal is currently sufficient to treat all the UCO generated in the different sectors.

Immediately, it seems urgent to me to redefine the legislation applicable to UCO in order to professionalize the collection market and increase the recycling rates of this waste.

How have you seen the evolution of this sector in Portugal in recent years?

In Portugal, I realize that Waste Management Operators dedicated to recycling UCO have made positive progress in terms of collection operations and are prepared to provide a positive response to existing recycling needs, mainly those in the domestic sector, which has low rates of recycling.

I have noticed that the interest of the citizens in recycling UCO has increased, perhaps as a result of growing communication and awareness among municipalities and operators themselves, which is a good indicator for achieving higher recycling rates.

What are the challenges that cooking oil collectors face today?

Immediately, the creation of a management entity for UCO is the issue that seems to create the most doubt among Waste Management Operators, whose main activity is the recycling of UCO. It is expected that the market will change, but we, Operators, know very little about what is coming. It could even change for the better, let's hope so.

In my opinion, there is another challenge that our market has been facing for some years, which involves the need to review the legislation applicable to UCO in order to simplify the entire recycling operation. Make clear the classification of UCO, the licensing process, the valuing process, the transportation and treatment of UCO, inspection, awareness raising, etc.

In my opinion, simplification will place greater demands on Waste Management Operators, but will increase the professionalization of the sector. Only in this way we can have a competitive but fair market and achieve satisfactory UCO recycling rates.

Do you believe that there is, in some way, a parallel market when it comes to collecting cooking oils?

There is clearly a parallel market in the collection of UCO. This market will continue to exist as long as the legislation is not revised. This does not mean that a review of the legislation will make it disappear completely, but I believe it will minimize it.

The parallel market exists for several factors:

– The legislation is too permissive. For example, it provides that any citizen, without any type of licensing, can collect and transport UCO to a Waste Management Operator. This person is known in our market as the “UCO collector”. There are good “UCO collectors” who provide a careful service, but there are others who provide such a bad service (dirty, disorganized, they steal UCO) that they put into question the image of all those involved in the value chain, especially Waste Management Operators. In my opinion, these individuals must cease to exist: either they become waste management operators and can collect UCO or, quite simply, they cannot do it.

– Lack of awareness and supervision of the UCO producer: the competent authorities must reinforce the duties of those involved in the recycling chain. Many UCO producers (from the HORECA sector, for example) are unaware that they are responsible for the proper disposal of this waste. It's not enough to have someone collect the UCO! The producer must ensure that it has the correct destination.

– One of the main and perhaps the most serious factor: there are Waste Management Operators who purchase UCO from “UCO collectors” without an invoice, without questioning its origin and without guaranteeing the traceability of the value chain. As long as these Waste Management Operators continue to do so, the parallel market will always exist, as UCO collected improperly has a guaranteed final recipient.

– Certification systems, (such as ISCC – International Sustainability Carbon Certification, for example) that exist to ensure the sustainability and traceability of the UCO value chain, are easily “fooled” by being very permissive and dependent on the good faith of those involved.

In order to minimize the parallel market for UCO, it is urgent to redefine legislation, increase awareness and supervision.

Tag :

EcoMovimento, UCO, used cooking oil

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