WHERE: Catalonia, Spain
WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY: Prevention and Recycling
TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Education, awareness raising
WASTE STREAMS: used cooking oil
About: The project consisted in the collection of Used Cooking Oil (UCO) at schools to produce biodiesel, involving students and by creating jobs for people at risk of social exclusion. It also included the design, building and optimization of a pilot plant for the treatment of oils and the production of biodiesel using cavitation technology, which has environmental advantages such as reducing the consumption of raw materials and energy.
The main goal of the project was to raise awareness of waste recycling and renewable energy production among children and young people, fostering educational and social values.
CTM is a non-profit technological center that aims to efficiently contribute to improving the competitiveness and the technological development of companies by providing specialized services and carrying out R&D and Innovation projects. Its activities cover sectors such as Environmental Technology, Materials Technology and Energy. CTM’s Sustainability Department is focused on contributing to sustainable industrial and community development through the enhancement of their environmental quality.
Financial: 643.787€ EU contribution, 1.485.526 € total.
Material resources: Construction of a whole new pilot plant in order to manage the UCO, adaptation and optimization of the new plant to produce biodiesel, design and production of a specific container to take the UCO and other media support.
Human resources: Besides all the scholars that were involved, the company BETA RENOWABLE GROUP S.A. took part in the project (focused on the biodiesel production). Also, people at risk of labour exclusion had a prominent paper in the recovery and purification of oil previously to be processed.
Main outcomes of the project were:
• The project involved 61 municipalities with 118 schools in total
• Awareness of 34.000 students about many environmental issues (waste management, valorization, promote the use of biofuel).
• Life EDUCO created 5 new work places for people at risk of labour exclusion.
• Decrease of the costs in water treatment station due to the lack of oil presence in them.
• At the end of the project an amount of 66.575 liters of wasted oil was collected and 4.700-5.500 containers were cleaned up. With this collection it has been possible to make 54.870 liters of biodiesel and reduce 23,49Tn CO2.
Urban metabolism relevance
DUCO project has a high relevance related to urban metabolism. Whole approach allows to decrease pollution effects of cooked oil, the reduction of waste and allows to obtain a valuable resource to displace conventional fossil fuels. In this regard, the production of biodiesel at UE and Spain is far away from the objective values established by the European directives. EDUCO and its efficient and sustainable production proposal supposed a key opportunity to improve the level of sustainability in transport sector and over the energy efficiency in general.
Aligned to this, the availability of the raw materials at a reasonable prize is a critical aspect. The study of UCO as a raw material is considered for that reason an important factor in the reduction of the required natural resources to exploit energetic farming and even for the reduction of the problem of massive oil in urban wastewater.
EDUCO is an innovation and demonstration project according to the criteria established in the Göteborg strategy. This strategy establishes a political framework at European level to engage sustainable development, meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
EDUCO were endowed with an important component of innovation and demonstration character: the UCO collection system in educational centers, oil pre-treatment and cleaning of the containers used for the collection as well as the biodiesel production, based in an innovative cavitation technology are the most representative aspects.
Engaged participatory processes
The project was performed with the collaboration of a great number of students from 1200 Catalan schools (as is mentioned on the” Results” section above). They were aware about the issue about the cooked oil effects in the environment, among the direct involvement in the recovery of waste. Hence, the informational process was done basically by the performance of activities done by the educators in centers with the help of the design of a set of educative materials and the release of a general guidance for educators.
Sustainability and replicability
Sustainability of the project was ensured once the project ended, the capitation of new schools and municipalities is still ongoing. Hence, aim is to increase geographical scope to further zones of Catalonia even Spain or Europe.
Furthermore, it is pretended to guarantee the project continuity creating an Integrate management system for the oil wastes generated at domestic level. This project reflected how relatively easy is to implement a system of oil collect for a lot of educational establishments.
Objective was to engage people in the collection of this waste and at the same time, to raise awareness about a relative unknown environmental concern. The idea can easily be replicated in other countries. In this regard, the future introduction and the design of an Integrated Management System of UCO is under evaluation.
- Key elements through a detailed Communication Plan that included different dissemination activities were deployed along the project. Promotional videos, graphic material, a dedicated webpage, informative panels in different locations allowed to perform an effective communication and transfer of knowledge generated.
- Both general public and professionals could have accessed to information about the progress of the project and its results. With that whole approach, project was publicized along a set of dissemination activities.
- 118 educational centers were visited and companies from biodiesel manufacturers to wastewater treatment operators were contacted for this purpose. Hence, specific open-days of the project allowed to kept them informed about the project activities.
One of the most problematic issues that influences the production of biodiesel is the availability of raw materials at a reasonable cost to ensure the viability of the production of biofuels. EDUCO allowed to contribute to the resolution of this problem. UCO are residues generated from the use of vegetable oils in continuous and repeated cycles of cooking foods at temperatures comprised of between 100° and 180°. Traditionally, they were reused as raw materials for production for animal food and soap production.
However, since the prohibition of using them in the animal food production (EC/1774/2002) and its inclusion in the European Catalogue of residues (EC/532/2000), UCO’s are being managed via specific process flows. Additionally, EU directive 2008/98/CE states: ‘The separate collection of waste oils remains crucial to their proper management and the prevention of damage to the environment from their improper disposal’. The biofuel directive (2003/30/EC) of the European Commission sets targets for the European Union to gradually replace fossil fuels with biofuels. The target for 2010 was 5,75% of biofuels.
The directive (2009/28/EC) on the Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources aims to reach up a minimum share of 10% in 2020 by using only sustainable biofuels. However, several challenges have to be addressed in future:
– There is a lack of detailed policies for the UCO collection and processing around Europe.
– Supporting measures to enhance small producers to collect and treat adequately UCO are not available in some countries.
– Any national integrated system for UCO collection has been implemented till the date in any European country
– Policy makers and the general public are not aware of the problems that avoid collection and adequate UCO treatment may produce