MONTEVIDEO – State-owned company Alcoholes de Uruguay (Alur) has launched a pilot project to recycle used cooking oil and convert it into biodiesel.
The head of Alur’s oleaginous products and derivatives unit, Nicolas Ferrari, told Efe Wednesday that a “smart” container already has been installed to gather used cooking oil at a school in Montevideo and the idea is to gradually set up others nationwide.
The project, which uses a green-colored “smart” glass container that receives used cooking-oil containers and provides clean ones in return, is modeled on recycling systems implemented by the company Ekogras in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastian.
The goal is to leverage the capacity of Alur’s new plants in Uruguay to produce biodiesel from used cooking oil, “as Europe has been doing for some time,” Ferrari said.
Alur has already signed its first agreements with fast-food chains and supermarkets in Montevideo, while other individual collectors are dispersed in various parts of Montevideo, a city of some 1.2 million inhabitants, and allow people to sell their used cooking oil.
Ferrari said Uruguayan society is interested in the program because people often do not know what to do with their used oil and end up pouring it down the drain, which complicates water treatment processes and clogs pipes.
“One liter of oil contaminates 1,000 liters of water and in Uruguay each inhabitant uses an average of 15 liters year, 3 of which end up as waste,” he said.
Awareness-raising and education are part of this recycling initiative.
The next step will be to increase the number of smart containers in Montevideo to 10 by February or March of next year and install others in the towns of Canelones and Piriapolis.