It may not seem the most likely way to power the country, but residents in Hampshire are now able to recycle their used cooking oil into renewable electricity to power UK homes and businesses.
Currently an estimated £15 million is spent each year by water companies dealing with blockages and incidences of flooding caused by used cooking oil.
However a new scheme, implemented by eco-firm Living Fuels, in partnership with Hampshire County Council and Hopkins Recycling Ltd, has seen used cooking oil tanks placed at 23 of the county’s household waste recycling centres, as well as one provided by Southampton City Council, for residents to recycle their waste cooking oil into green power. Just one full tank will provide equivalent electricity to that needed to power the average home for an entire year.
Once collected, the oil is taken to Living Fuels’ recovery facility, where it settles naturally and is filtered into an environmentally friendly bioliquid, LF100. This bioliquid is then used in Living Fuels’ renewable energy facilities to provide carbon neutral energy to the National Grid at times of unexpected power demand. Just one litre of recovered used cooking oil (about one-third of what you would find in an average chip pan) can run a dishwasher for three hours, make 240 cups of tea or power an energy-saving light bulb for 225 hours.
Living Fuels’ Operations Director, Rob Murphy, says of the process: “The recovery of waste vegetable oil into our chemical-free bioliquid, and subsequent electricity generation and capture of heat means a higher recovery of energy, making this process the most sustainable way of recycling used cooking oil.”
The new service will form part of Hampshire County Council’s bid to further increase recycling in the county, diverting more household waste away from landfill. Last year, the County Council dealt with 592,810 tonnes of household waste and successfully diverted over 91% away from landfill.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment at Hampshire County Council, commented: “Our aspiration is for zero landfill and we are getting close. Hampshire’s record to date is excellent, with over 91% of household waste either being recycled or being used to generate energy. Hampshire residents are excellent recyclers and, thanks to Hopkins Recycling, our contractors who have instigated this trial with the help of Living Fuels, it is great news that we can offer them a way to dispose of used cooking oil conveniently and safely, and that this waste can be recycled to generate green energy.”