Don’t Stop Yourself or Anyone from Doing Good for Earth!

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Dumping any environmentally hazardous material into the water body is a punishable offence under The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. A hazardous waste, means any waste, which by reason of characteristics, such as physical, chemical, biological, reactive, toxic, flammable, explosive or corrosive, causes danger to health, or the environment.

Would dumping Used Cooking Oil (UCO) down the drain be considered a hazardous act? What about consuming it?

Everything in moderation is good. This is perhaps the most famous piece of diet advice ever given. When it comes to reusing Used Cooking Oil (UCO), research has shown, re-heating of cooking oil leads to release of toxic substances and increase free radicals in the body causing inflammation and various chronic diseases. According to FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) guidelines, avoid using re-heated oil as far as possible. In case one has to reuse oil, use it at the most twice to avoid formation of trans-fat, that are harmful fats produced by repeated frying, causing health toxicity leading to lipid deposition, oxidative stress, hypertension, atherosclerosis, etc. Thus, increases the risk of heart disease.

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It is a common practice seen in many households to pour the remnants of the used cooking oil down the drain. As the saying goes, “every drop count”, here too, each drop of discarded used oil, over a period not only clogs and chokes the drain and sewer lines but also drastically reduces the efficiency of the waste water treatment plants. Most drains lead directly to streams, lakes, rivers, and if oil enters a drain it can have the same effect as OIL SPILLING has on water bodies. JUST ONE LITRE OF OIL, CAN CONTAMINATE ONE MILLION LITRES OF WATER. Dumping Used Cooking Oil (UCO) down the drain has a devastating effect on the aquatic environment, being lighter and immiscible with water, it spreads over the surface in a thin layer that stops oxygen getting to the plants and animals that live in the water. Thus, harms the biotic life, kills animals and insects, prevents photosynthesis in plants, disrupts the food chain and takes a long time to recover.

Yes, dumping of Used Cooking Oil (UCO) into the water bodies is a HAZARDOUS ACT!

Healthy environment fosters healthy life! We need to care for both.

India imports millions of tonnes of crude oil for energy consumption. Crude oil is mainly carbon atom! If we convert the crude oil into carbon atoms, then we roughly import three hundred and fifty million tons of carbon atoms. But the irony is we throw away nearly five hundred million tons of carbon atom as unwanted waste in the form of: — Used Cooking Oil and spent agricultural-oils, that has a lot of potential to convert into green diesel, even bio jet fuels. Plastics are petroleum products and waste plastics comes under the dry waste fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and technology exists to convert it back to Poly Fuel. The kitchen waste, the garden waste, even waste from the sewage is all part of the wet waste fraction of the MSW that requires segregation from the dry waste at all cost and converted to Bio-gas. Simple technology exists to convert agricultural residues and plantation waste to bio-oils, pellets, briquettes, etc. In fact, every kind of waste that we throw away can go back into making fuel in some form or the other and in doing so, we can save a lot of foreign exchange in return! In the interest of health and restoration of our environment, priorities sustainability and use our ability to REVERSE this irony at all cost!

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Waste is not waste but resource, let’s not waste it! The key challenges of aggregation, segregation, purity, variability, asset maintenance, etc. of waste needs to take precedence and dealt with firmly.

RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil) is one such simple act where every person, housing societies, community, organisation can play a vital role in safeguarding the future generation. Besides opting for healthy consumption, one must make a conscious effort to capture every drop of the Used Cooking Oil (UCO) from every kitchen, collect and store in any container, until one finds an authorised RUCO dealer listed with FSSAI or Biodiesel Association of India for safe and responsible disposal, by donating or selling it only to them. The risk of not doing so, is that, if the UCO falls in the wrong hands, then there is a high chance of it being misused, whereby they are superficially refined by filtering, chemically treating, before they are re-packed and sold as a cheaper cooking oil in the commercial food system!

ARIS BioEnergy is one such Mumbai based authorized RUCO dealer that collects leftover Used Cooking Oil from commercial eateries, residences and convert it to biodiesel. They are slowly spreading their wings to create a greener and healthier environmental impact pan India. Especially now, during the COID-19 pandemic times, good health is the foremost priority; ARIS BioEnergy has initiated a campaign #HarGharHealthy by motivating people to follow and repeat four simple “Cs” of Cook — Collect — Contribute — Convert to Biodiesel. For the convenience of the residents they encourage people to register themselves at their website for doorstep pickup of UCO, to create — A Greener and Cleaner planet for the future generation.

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Aggregated Used Cooking Oil (UCO) has inherent value in the market owing mainly to its recyclable ability into useful commercial products. It is also known as “yellow grease” or “liquid gold,” as it is a very desirable commodity and used for making sustainable bars of soap, cosmetics, animal feed, etc. UCO are easily broken down, refined and repurposed into glycerine and biodiesel, used as fuel. CSIR-IIP, Dehradun has developed a very simple room temperature biodiesel process called “Drop and Drive” that any unskilled person can handle anywhere. The collected UCO is simply mixed with an alcohol like methanol, a catalyst and a solvent. After mixing they are left for two hours. No heating no mechanical stirring required. It results in forming two layers, the biodiesel layer on top and glycerine below. Each separated, and used commercially. Biodiesel obtained from UCO can run generators or any diesel automobile, without bringing major mechanical changes in them. Depending on one’s requirement, further distilling of the biodiesel one can generate a higher quality fuel like aviation fuel to fly jets.

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), India being one of the largest consumers of vegetable oil, has the potential to Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO) and convert 220 Cr litre of UCO to produce biodiesel by the year 2022.

Strengthening the aggregation structure and channeling UCO for RUCO to Bio-Diesel, an alternate fuel, reduces the frequent visits to petrol pumps and once’s dependence of diesel consumption, thus enhances the stability limits in saving both energy and time. It is a cheaper, cleaner, greener, healthier way to cut down the carbon footprint. Switching to RUCO will not only create green jobs, but will also help save our country’s foreign exchange. RUCO can create a sustainable ecosystem, replicated everywhere.

Spread the word and follow #NaRokoRUCOko!

Watch the video of RUCO webinar held on Oct 9th 2021: )

About the Author

Nita Ganguly, National Coordinator — Waste Management, Climate Reality India, Educator and Author is a passionate climate change activist. As an author, she voices her opinion and shares her knowledge about mitigation for climate change with an objective to sensitize people and bring about a change in the mindset. She has been actively writing about waste management. You can read her previous blogs as well on this platform. Her motto is to make everyone see waste as a resource that can be used for a sustainable future.

The Climate Reality Project India, actively engages igniting the spark and spreading the message of #climatechange amongst educators and civil society.