What is waste oil and why does it cause confusion for many? This blog has the answers!
Waste oil is produced in large quantities especially in the catering industry. Those in the catering industry need to ensure that thy implement safe and correct procedures to dispose of the used and waste oil that they produce effectively.
An important thing to remember when it comes to oil disposal is to NEVER dispose of waste oil in the sink or directly into the drain. It may seem like the oil is broken down with hot, soapy water, however, it can still re-solidify once it cools and settles in the drain pipes. This will result in blockages to drainage systems.
Oils can also find their way into waterways, rivers and lakes where animals live. As the oil accumulates, over time it can deplete oxygen levels in the water which can cause wildlife to suffocate.
Another thing that should be avoided is pouring waste cooking oil into a compost bin as it generally doesn’t break down.
So, with so many issues with the disposal of cooking oil it can present a multitude of problems, particularly for businesses who use it in large quantities.
This means that…
If you are a manager of a restaurant or catering business anywhere in the UK whether you are looking for Waste Management Scotland or Wales, the correct disposal of your cooking oil is very important. This is because there are regulations that you have to comply with and breaching these regulations can result in prosecution.
The government have quite specific guidelines in place which govern the storage and use of oil because of the problems that it can cause. If your business produces waste cooking oil as part of routine operations, you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the oil is adequately stored. Businesses should also take reasonable precautions to minimise spillages and make the necessary arrangements for waste oil to be collected by someone authorised to either recycle or dispose of the oil in the correct way. Once collected, the approved company will then take the oil to an authorised facility to be recycled or disposed of.
Pouring waste cooking oil down the drain or into a sewer can result in prosecution.
Cooking oil presents another problem because it cannot be disposed of with the day to day catering waste as it can cause problems such as:
An unpleasant odour
Waste contractors may refuse to collect waste that contains cooking oil
So, what is the alternative?
There are companies such as ours who specialise in oil management, collecting and recycling the oil in many ways.
Previously food businesses were paid in exchange for their waste oil which was then used as a high energy diet for livestock. Since the legislation changed this avenue is no longer available and the waste oil needs to be collected commercially for recycling or correct disposal. All waste collectors should be licensed by The Environment Agency and you should carry out your own checks to make sure that the contractor collecting your waste oil carries the necessary licence.
That’s not all…
Businesses must comply with a number of legal guidelines to help prevent oil, fat and grease from entering the drains. The main pieces of legislation relevant to businesses include:
Water Industry Act 1991 – Makes it an offence to place any substance into the public sewer which can affect the flow of wastewater.
Environmental Protection Act 1990 – Every commercial premises should arrange waste oil collection and disposal and should comply with Section 34 which relates to a duty of care. This is to ensure that waste is managed correctly from the place it is produced to the point where it is finally disposed.
Food Safety Act 1990 – Local authorities are authorised to conduct inspections under the Food Safety Act. In doing so any problems that they identify in relation to fat, oil and grease in drains caused by failure to comply with food hygiene regulations could result in prosecution.
Here’s what you do…
How to dispose of cooking oil: correct waste management
Businesses should take all reasonable steps to ensure that oil, grease and fat do not enter the drain or sewer system. Staff should be sufficiently trained to understand the importance of complying with the regulations and the implications of failing to do so. Businesses could find that a failure to comply results in both high costs to remedy the problem and the consequences of having to deal with a public health issue.
Used cooking oil is an incredibly valuable resource which can, if recycled can produce a range of extremely useful products including biofuels, biodiesel and animal feed supplements. As a business owner, you should be acutely aware of the dangers surrounding the disposal of waste cooking oil down the drains. Many businesses may cool the oil down so that it solidifies and then dispose of it correctly in sealed containers. Although this is a preferred method as opposed to pouring the oil down the drain, it still means that a valuable resource is being wasted. Recycling is one of the best, sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions for dealing with waste oil.
If your business only produces a small amount of waste oil on a yearly basis then the most effective solution is to find a waste oil recycling plant in your local area. The best container to collect, store, and transport dispose of your waste oil is in the container you received it in from the supplier. For businesses that generate large quantities of oil dedicated oil management companies can arrange for the oil to be collected and recycled.
Once you have used the waste oil, pour the cooled oil into a container and then take it to a recycling facility or have it collected. You don’t even need to remove any food particles or other debris as recycling facilities have purpose built tanks specially designed to filter and remove debris.
Depending on the size of your business, collection of your waste oil may be free of charge or you may even be able to generate an additional, albeit small revenue stream. Companies such as cafes, restaurants and other hospitality based businesses are producing larger quantities of oil than ever before and are starting to realise the benefits of disposing oil in a responsible and sustainable way.
A growing number of vegetable oils are being recycled, refined and converted into biofuels used for power generation and heating systems. As well as the countless benefits of recycling using a product that would otherwise end up as waste, biofuels which are derived from cooking oils will generally burn in a clean way, reducing carbon monoxide emissions which only serves to reduce the carbon footprint. All types of cooking oils are suitable for recycling.
Using recycled cooking oil as a source of energy is increasing in popularity because it is kinder on the environment. Not only does it produce fewer greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, it is more economical and can reduce the reliance on commonly used high polluting fuels.
In the UK, the government are required to regularly create and distribute reports on how biofuels are used. These reports are produced in line with the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation which aims to provide greater regulation in terms of biofuel usage particularly in the transport industry. In the UK, waste cooking oil is commonly used in the manufacture of biofuel.
Once the waste oil has been received, food particles will be sifted and removed from the waste cooking oil and it then goes through a series of processes to convert the oil into fuel which can be used for a variety of things. As an example, bio fuels can be used to fuel vehicles in the transport industry as they are compatible with the majority of vehicle engines. Not only do they eliminate harmful pollution, using biofuel can prolong the lifetime of a vehicle engine.
How is the Oil Collected?
What was once considered to be a useless and often problematic waste product is now a key asset for many businesses that can be recycled and re-used. Many businesses now have some really efficient arrangements in place to have their waste cooking oil removed and recycled by a waste management company. Cooking oil can be taken away for processing and converted into biodiesel which can then be used to run cars, vans and Lorries. In some towns and cities, the entire bus fleet runs on bio diesel and a number of Lorries collecting and delivering waste cooking oil use the diesel to run their vehicles.
However, there are a few things that you need to remember before you start the recycling process there are a few things that you need to be aware of before you begin.
The first step is to ensure that as outlined above, the oil is collected by a company who is registered and licensed. You must also obtain a valid waste transfer note which is an important document that you must keep for at least 2 years and is confirmation that your waste has been disposed of properly. If you fail to produce this documentation when requested, you could non-compliance fines.
You can either use the containers in which you received the oil (but making sure they are clearly marked as waste) or the waste collection company will provide suitable containers.
The majority of waste collection vehicles for oil management companies are specially designed to collect oil in the safest possible way.
The Recycling Process
Used cooking oil goes through a series of processes to refine into biodiesel which is a green and environmentally friendly fuel which can help reduce carbon emissions. Once the driver has collected the oil from your company and issued a waste transfer note, the oil is then transported to a waste recycling unit.
The first step in the process is to clean and filter the oil using a strict specification before it is prepared for biofuel refineries. The team will review the oil and grade it in terms of quality, focusing on the colour and clarity of the oil to check how long it needs to go through each step in the recycling process.
The oil is then cleaned in a large tank in the pre-filtration system which is a sieve collecting food and other debris which is then removed. Inside the tank the oil is heated which sifts out the smaller debris and impurities which settle at the bottom of the tank, so they can be separated from the oil. Once complete, the oil is distributed into a large filtering system until it meets very strict specifications found in the biofuel refineries.
The oil is now one step closer to being converted into biodiesel. At this stage it is then transported to a dedicated biodiesel refinery where the oil is combined with methanol and potassium hydroxide which transforms the cooking oil into biodiesel.
If approached in the right way it is possible to dispose of and even benefit from the waste oil that your business produces on a yearly basis. Waste oil should always be collected by a registered and licensed carrier from a reputable company who will recycle or dispose of your oil in the correct manner. Not only will you be complying with regulations, you will also contribute to a greener environment and generate some income for your business in the process.