Growing doubts about “chip fat” biofuels

Tip Fat Flyer

Tip Fat Flyer

The new study casts doubt on the environmental impact of increased imports of used cooking oil (UCO) into the United Kingdom and Europe.

Chip fats and other oils are considered waste, so when used in the production of biodiesel, replacing chemical oil can save carbon emissions.

However, this is the demand for Europe as a whole, and imports now account for more than half of the fuel UCO.

by the study, There is no way to prove that these imports are sustainable.

Experts believe it’s also scam ripe, as it hasn’t tested what comes in.

Reducing transportation emissions has proven to be one of the most difficult challenges for governments around the world.

They encourage the use of biofuels as an important means of controlling carbon from automobiles and heavy trucks.

Biofuels are usually a blend of fossil fuels and petroleum made from plants and vegetables.

The fact that these crops can regrow and absorb more CO2 means offsetting the carbon emitted when used in the engine.

Soybeans and palm oil were once widely used as components of biodiesel, but this practice has been widely distrusted because it promotes deforestation.

As a result, the use of spent cooking oil has expanded significantly over the past decade or so as an alternative to fuel.

Chip fats and other waste oils have become important components of biodiesel, creating effective industries throughout Europe for collecting and processing products.

However, since 2014, the amount of biodiesel produced from UCO has increased by about 40% each year, so there is only a shortage of chip fat.


Palm oil is commonly used in biodiesel, but is no longer favored due to increased deforestation

According to a report from the campaign group Transportation and environment, More than half of the UCOs used in Europe are imported.

Their research suggests that this is very problematic when it comes to environmental impact.

UCO is considered waste in the UK, but has long been used as animal food in China, Indonesia and Malaysia. The report raises the question of what people in these countries are replacing when exporting UCOs.

In 2019, Malaysia exported 90 million liters of UCO to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Export figures to other European countries are not available, but the UCO flow may be similar.

With a population of approximately 33 million, nearly 3 liters of used oil is collected and exported only in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

By comparison, Thailand, with a population of 70 million, was able to raise about 5 million liters of UCO in 2019.

“They don’t use much cooking oil to use on what they used to use because we buy it,” said Greg Archer of Transport & Environment. It was.

“And they are only buying more virgin oil, which is mainly palm oil, because it is the cheapest oil available.

“Indirectly, we are only encouraging more deforestation in Southeast Asia.”

Another major issue with UCO is suspicion of fraud.

Due to demand from Europe, UCO prices are often higher than palm oil. The worry is that some malicious traders are just diluting UCO shipments in the palm of their hand.

Some experts believe that fraud is widespread, as different types of oils are mixed in large quantities for transportation and the materials have not been tested.


Biodiesel is a commonly used used cooking oil that is rapidly expanding throughout Europe.

Fraud proposals somewhere in the supply chain have been rejected by the Advanced Biofuels Association (EWABA) from European waste, which claims to have a strong authentication scheme in place.

“It is widely known that the European Commission has taken appropriate steps to completely curb unhealthy market practices in the biofuels market,” said Angel Alberti, Executive Director of EWABA.

He states that a new database being developed by the EU must ensure that all bioliquid trading, certification and sustainability data are registered.

“The combination of the revised certification scheme and the pan-EU tracking and tracking database ensures that there are no sustainability issues across the biofuel and bioliquid supply chain,” he told BBC News.

Others in this area are concerned that the database ideas first discussed in 2018 may not be effective in stopping suspicious scams.

According to a Transport & Environment report, shipping and aviation are aiming to decarbonize using biofuels, and UCO demand could double in the next decade.

“Increasing demand beyond sustainable supply levels raises these concerns, increases the risk of using“ fake ”UCOs, and can lead to indirect consequences such as deforestation. “

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc..