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Case Study

Repurposing Used Cooking Oil for Biofuel

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KNP Arises – Green Energy Pvt Ltd

India’s food regulator reports that 2.2 billion litres of used cooking oil are discarded each year nationwide. Owing to a lack of awareness and infrastructure, much of this oil is reused, and redirected into several different channels, with an estimated 60% being resold to street food vendors. The health risks of repetitive use of oil include heart disease, cancers, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, etc. To stop the recirculation and facilitate the right disposal of used cooking oil (UCO), KNP Arises Green Energy Private Limited was incepted in 2019 with a mission to create tech-enabled reverse logistics and user-friendly systems to help dispose of UCO for a cleaner environment and healthier society. 

Our first step was to raise awareness of the harmful effects of UCO amongst small and large vendors as well as households. To ease people’s adoption of the disposal infrastructure, our platform educates food businesses and households about the system available to dispose of oil and about the side effects of such oil on personal health and the environment. We do this through awareness drives, where we also offer easy solutions for disposal as shown in the pull up banner below. We help our vendors by teaching them when and how to dispose of their cooking oil, and have introduced the platform to hotel restaurant kitchens and other food businesses to help dispose of their UCO in a traceable and effective manner. Our service also allows them to receive the best price for disposing of their oil, motivating them to discharge responsibly.

Setting up the transport system came next. We have 6 warehouses all over India to store the collected oil and a robust supply chain for transport to biofuel manufacturers where it will be converted to biofuel for supply to customers. To further facilitate the conversion of UCO into biofuel, our platform offers ease to manufacturers of biofuel in sourcing their raw material from the nearest place. As we are present in over 40 cities in India, biofuel manufacturers can access the UCO from wherever they are and track its availability through an application, ‘Ecoil”, which we have devised to share real-time information and 100% transparency. At more than 550 oil collection points we have collected over 2.7 million litres of UCO from India’s food chains, safeguarding the health of society by preventing 6 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions.  We also provide certificates and stickers against the oil collection which helps vendors in FSSAI compliance, these assets also help them to show their commitment towards high quality food and environment support.

With high demand for biofuel and a shortage of raw materials, the biofuel industry in India offers a number of growth opportunities. While the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India estimates the nation’s oil consumption potential at 23 million tons a year, only 1% of the demand for biodiesel is currently being met. By converting UCO to biodiesel, we can address the shortfall and tap into the high demand for raw materials, and that presents business opportunities in terms of acquiring customers.

We are also working with 5-star hotels, like Taj & Leela, and also with well-known restaurants that generate substantial quantities of UCO. Our growth rate of 100% and our continued success, demonstrates the potential for further growth in our business model and our deep understanding of the industry. As we continue to expand our operations, we are positioned well to make a considerable impact on the biofuel industry in India.

Our presence has steadily grown, and we were operational in 40 cities as of 2022. We are pushing our initiatives in Tier 2 and 3 cities, where we implemented the oil collection services while raising awareness of the impacts of used cooking oil. Our goal is to reach 100 cities in India by 2025 and collect 6.4M litres of UCO in the coming year. 

Unauthorised and illegal oil collectors are the biggest challenge for us, which we are trying to tackle by spreading awareness amongst residential societies and small food firms, to eventually reach the larger segment of the population. We are also trying to inculcate the habit of disposing of UCO properly to deal with all three sides of the hazardous effects of improper disposal in terms of environmental, social and economic aspects. We aim to partner with more vendors for oil collection by working with NGOs and offline and online platforms. We have been awarded by some great institutes like UNDP, India Swachhta challenge and few more for our SDG targets.

However, the market is enormous and difficult to operate in. Despite a plentiful supply of UCO, smart collection from all available sources will require substantial infrastructure and investment.

Collecting used cooking oil helps protect people and the ecosystem at large. We are safeguarding the health of millions of people in India by preventing the adulteration and recirculation of UCO in the food chain, which has the severe health implications mentioned above. We also prevent water body pollution by UCO. This is significant as UCO has the potential to clog sewage systems and to increase the strain on treatment plants. If any discarded oil reaches water bodies through drains, it can cause pollution to the detriment of aquatic life. India’s food regulator estimates that a single litre of UCO can pollute 10,000 litres of water. Thus, our project has helped save millions of litres of water from being polluted with UCO.

Lastly, the used oil diverted from aquatic bodies and food chains can be used to produce biofuel, an alternative to conventional fuel with perhaps 80% lower carbon emissions and no sulphur. This makes it the most suitable available green fuel for heavy machines. Besides the environmental benefits, biofuel is also one-third more economical than conventional fuel. To date we have reduced an estimated 6000 MT of CO2 emissions, contributing to clean air in the cities.

References

A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

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