Bio-diesel production in the Philippines is expected to get a big boost with an anticipated rise in the availability of used cooking oil or UCO. Among the factors that have held back bio diesel production in the country is the lack of a consistent supply of feed stock or raw material that can be converted into bio-diesel. While the idea of using castor beans and jathropa as feed stock for bio-diesel production has been attempted before, the growing of these feed stocks have been largely experimental and reached production in scales that would make continuous bio-diesel production viable.
Just last week, three Philippine congressmen introduced House Bill 5957 which prohibits the recycling and selling of used cooking oil. Known as the “Anti-Used Cooking Oil Act of 2012″, the proposed legislation seeks to prevent used cooking oil from fast food companies or quick serve restaurants from being resold.
Under the measure, it shall be unlawful for any person or entity to buy or sell used cooking oil, except for industrial purposes, such as, homemade biodiesel fuel, lubricant, soup-making and weather-proofing of exterior woodwork, among others.
Retailer, proprietor, corporation or local government unit who shall sell, or authorize to sell, used cooking oil that is not to be used for industrial purposes shall be fined with not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000.
The bill is authored by Congressmen Christopher Co, Rodel Batocabe, and Alfredo Garbin, Jr. (Party-list, AKO Bicol)
“The use of recycled cooking oil has its many dangers, leading to the increased incidents of hypertension, damage to the liver, and could be a potential cause of cancer. Other countries, particularly in China and Malaysia, have also made efforts to curb this unhealthy practice,” Co said.
“There have been reports that packs of used cooking oil have mushroomed in the markets because these were a lot cheaper,” Batocabe said.
”Used cooking oil shall only be distributed to accredited retailers and users, and the sale of used cooking oil to any person not an accredited retailer shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of the proposed act,” Garbin said.
Despite the benefits claimed for banning the sale and use of used cooking oil, the bill has been criticized by consumers seeking relief from the rising prices of consumer goods. Used cooking oil from fast food or quick serve restaurants are sold in wet markets at a much lower price than unused cooking oil — it is around 10 to 20 Philippine pesos less for a 1.5 liter bottle.
Moreover, other critics point out that the bill emphasizes penalties rather than providing a mechanism that will allow people to receive benefits from banning the use or sale of used cooking oil. One model that could have been institutionalized in the bill could have been a community based approach towards bio-diesel production.
The manufacturers of Eway54 Bio Diesel, in line with their thrust of creating resilient communities through energy self-sufficiency, worked together with families of jeepney operators to collect used cooking oil, convert it into bio diesel and use the bio-diesel in their vehicles. This would not only result in fuel savings for the jeepney operators, but the resulting by product of the UCO to bio disel conversion, which is pure nitroglycerin, can be made into a soap which their wives could re-sell.
In any case, the ban of used cooking oil is expected to create opportunities for setting up a new form of business that may be engaged either in collecting or converting used cooking oil for bio-diesel production.
This development comes at a good time as fuel prices continue to climb and bio-diesel, made from used cooking oil, becomes not only the less expensive but the more sustainable alternative fuel.