Used cooking oil from good health to recycling for good environment

We are a country of food lovers. We love our spices and curriesWe love the roadside chat, pakode and parathas. But do we realize the immense weight behind this?

Used cooking oil – from good health to recycling for good environment
Authored by: Shiva Vig, CEO, BIOD Energy

Using oil for cooking is a daily practice in our households. With so many brands available in the market, we try to get the best one suiting our daily requirements. We use it, reuse it, and then probably, this exercise is repeated several times. It may be a piece of news for many that used cooking oil (UCO) is harmful for human consumption.

Used cooking oil from good health to recycling for good environment

UCO is unsafe for health


UCO is damaging for health and as well as for the environment. There is no systematic disposal system for cooking oil in India. UCO is sold to second tier and third tier restaurants or road-side shops or disposed of in the province drainage network, which results in the high cost to unclog the drainage.


Subsequently, when food is cooked in the used oil, it results in life threatening diseases such as heart problems, blocked arteries, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Parkinson’s disease etc. As per reports, laboratory tests conducted by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on seven vanaspati brands, 21 different brands of vegetable oils (soybean, sunflower, groundnut, mustard, coconut, olive, sesame and palm), desi ghee and butter available in Indian markets found that trans fat levels were five to 12 times higher than the world’s recommended standards in all vanaspati brands “Khaoge healthy, banoge healthy”, if we work on this concept and make proper arrangements for collection of UCO and convert it into biodiesel, it will result in the betterment of the nation’s health, environment and thus, the economy too.


Notably, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has recently advised State Food Safety Commissioners to focus on awareness and education programmes, surveillance and enforcement activities for the new set of regulations. FSSAI said it is in discussion with the Indian Biodiesel Association to establish a nation-wide eco-system for collection of used cooking oil and its conversion to bio-diesel. The new regulations have set the maximum permissible limit of Total Polar Compound (TPC) in edible oil at 25 per cent. Repeated frying and usage of edible oil changes its physiochemical and nutrition properties and leads to the formation of TPC, which makes it unfit for human consumption.


Currently a few biofuel regulators and producers associations have been taking used cooking oil from restaurants, food outlets and stores for biodiesel processing but looking at the upcoming conditions of the environment, which will need an extensive amount of biofuel for energy, the current number of UCO collections will need to be scaled up through  well- planned promotions and awareness programmes.


Advantage UCO to biodiesel


Since 2005, with the introduction of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, the volumes of UCO collected have increased steadily to a 2013 estimate of 250 million litres. Regular diesel fuel now contains up to 5% biodiesel generated from UCO.


 Liquid biodiesel provides a better substitute for fossil fuels that is used in the transport sector. Opting for alternative energy sources can help us combat various developmental issues ranging from climate to economic. Not only this, but it will open employment avenues for many in a developing economy like ours.


The attention towards sustainable biofuel production worldwide is growing rapidly. The profitability of biodiesel production is significantly linked with the policies of multiple sectors such as agriculture, food and feed processing, research and development, industry and commercial trade.


Biodiesel sector is capable of providing substantial employment in India, as our country is basically rich in agriculture. Besides, the sector encompasses second generation ethanol, biodiesel and associated products starting from bio refinery, which are assured to create newer employment opportunities at grass root level, mid-level and R&D level.


Recycling of UCO into Biodiesel – Advantages:

  • The security of food chain
  • Immense health benefits as we refrain from using UCO
  • Recycling of UCO to produce biodiesel aligns with Make in India
  • Gradual increase in job opportunities
  • Biodiesel reduces emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbons, and sulfates compared to petroleum diesel fuel
  • Additionally, reduces emissions of carcinogenic compounds by as much as 85% compared with petro diesel
  • Generation of renewable energy and sustainable carbon footprint, will create a zone for zero cost waste management
  • Conversion of an illegal industry to a legal one
  • And, India achieves the fuel security through a biodiesel conversion




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