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Recycling cooking oil for charity

How to recycle cooking oil while raising money for sick children and help create a sustainable future. It’s a piece of cake says Robert Murphy Living Fuels operations director.

We all know that enormous strides have been made in the past few years to increase recycling rates in the UK and put the waste issue into the forefront of public consciousness. However, there is still a need to encourage changes in people’s behaviour and habits - especially when it comes to tackling problematic waste streams. One example is used cooking oil, which can be turned into a valuable resource; for example just one tonne of waste oil can power an average UK home for an entire year.  

As a by-product of our daily lives, cooking oil has been a problem waste for the UK for a long time. Sticky and messy it costs the UK an estimated £15m a year to clear blockages caused by disposal of waste cooking oil down drains, according to the Consumer Council for Water. When sent to landfill it fares no better, as it has a terrible habit of leaking into and polluting nearby watercourses, affecting wildlife. 

Living Fuels aims to deal with this waste stream in a safe and efficient manner. We offer a used cooking oil disposal service at over 400 household waste recycling centres in the UK, alongside our work with food manufacturers and public sector establishments such as prisons.

Once collected, Living Fuels recovers the waste oil into a clean, green bioliquid, which is used in our renewable energy power stations to provide eco-friendly electricity to UK homes and businesses. Now, in a new pilot scheme to complement the service, Living Fuels has launched a charity drive in partnership with Merseyside Waste and Recycling Authority and Veolia Environmental Services, which sees every litre of used cooking oil collected over a three month period turned into a charity donation for the Alder Hey Hospital’s Imagine Appeal.

Alder Hey is a hospital close to the hearts of Merseyside residents, as one of the biggest children’s hospitals in Europe, with a catchment of 7.5m and an estimated 60,000 children going through its A&E each year.

“We’re so glad to be able to help raise money for a worthy cause, through a high profile campaign surrounding an emotive issue,” says Rob Murphy, Living Fuels’ operations director. “As a child I was stitched up at Alder Hey more times that I can remember, so it’s great to give something back to the hospital.

“We currently work alongside a variety of local charities across the country, and if this scheme proves successful, hope to roll the appeal out on a wider scale. We feel that type of charity drive is not only a great way to highlight the service that we offer, it is also allowing us to work within the community to help residents in another way.”

Chris Done, head of fundraising at the Imagine appeal continues: “We are delighted to be the beneficiaries of this scheme. Not only can residents support the Alder Hey’s young patients, they will also be working towards providing all our children with a sustainable environment for their futures.”

The environmental benefits of generating renewable energy from used cooking oil are clear. Just one litre of used cooking oil poured into drains can pollute up to 1,000,000 litres of water. Conversely, when recycled into renewable electricity, it can provide enough clean energy to produce 240 cups of tea. Time to put the kettle on then.

How the Living Fuel scheme works

The oil is collected at each HWRC in Living Fuels’ 1250 litre fully bunded tanks. It is subsequently received into 30,000 litre stainless steel tanks, where it is settled and then filtered through our entirely additive-free patented process, creating the bioliquid which is used in the company’s renewable energy power stations. Besides its CHP units at the Port of Dover and on-site at the recovery plant, the firm currently feeds 8.5MW of electricity into the National Grid at times of unexpected power demand. This use of a difficult waste stream has received endorsement at Governmental level  in 2010, with a DECC funded North Energy Report stating:  “The highest absolute savings in GHG emissions can be achieved by using refined vegetable oil derived from used cooking oil in a CHP unit”.

Living Fuels is part of the Renewable Energy Generation group. Visit

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