Lesch Altfettrecycling is a professional recycler of used cooking oil and fats, based in Germany.
It specialises in reprocessing these materials for biodiesel or electricity generation, using a pioneering collection system combined with a purpose-built processing plant.
The collection system is Fat- Boxx, a wheeled container specially designed to collect a range of separated food-related materials including used cooking oil, fats and grease; food waste from the catering and food processing sectors; and animal by-products from meat rendering plants and slaughterhouses.
A fleet of vehicles collects the FatBoxx 120- and 180-litre containers on a bin replacement system, from more than 18,000 customers in the catering, bakery and butchery sectors across southern Germany.
Commercial recycling companies such as Lesch and organisations in the UK find that FatBoxx helps them to deliver a high level of service to their food sector customers.
One reason that Lesch chose the FatBoxx system was that is user friendly for customers. Its large ‘Big Foot’ wheels give it a high load bearing capability and enable it to be moved easily in and out of premises. A quick-release wheel mechanism allows bins to be nested to save space in storage.
The FatBoxx can be stacked or hooked to a wall, to save space in a kitchen, on a vehicle or at a servicing depot. It can fit next to or under counters in food preparation areas, with a lockable, sealed lid to prevent leaks and odours as well as eliminating access by pests.
A measuring scale on the body of the translucent PE container allows customers to see how full the container is, while the recycling specialist can measure the level at the point of collection, enabling straightforward payment for the amount collected.
Data capture can be linked to RFID chips inserted in the bin, which can fully audit each collection following replacement with an empty FatBoxx.
Liquids as hot as 110˚C can be placed in the FatBoxx without distorting the body, and its rounded bottom and spherical shape make the bin easier to empty and clean because there are no corners or edges to trap residues. The container is EN840 certified, the recognised standard for mobile waste containers.
A full FatBoxx is exchanged for a clean container, which has been comprehensively treated by Lesch in a fully automated flow-through washing system.
The containers are brought into a purpose-built automated processing plant where they are emptied and cleaned. The used cooking oil, fats and grease are either converted to biodiesel or used for electricity generation, used to power the plant itself plus local households and businesses.
FatBoxx can be inverted and emptied mechanically using a single or multi-bin platform hoisting device. Lesch uses a specially designed automated lifting and tilting mechanism to empty the containers completely, without residue retention, into a fat-melting bunker. This is followed by a pressured steam treatment to liquefy material allowing it to flow.
In a three-phase decanting process, the liquid grease is separated by centrifuge into its three components of fat, water and solids, such as breadcrumbs or remnants of French fries. This process is purely mechanical, using no chemicals.
The FatBoxx is then put into a sophisticated automated washing plant for thorough cleaning before the containers go out to the next customer. The hot water used for this cleaning is heated via a combined heat and power (CHP) system using old grease.
The largest portion of the purified grease is further processed in the fuel industry and used to produce biodiesel. Some is also used in the cosmetics industry and in the manufacture of detergents.
Lesch operates an on-site CHP with a photovoltaic system on the roof of its production facilities to generate electricity, and feeds the excess into the local utility grid.
Interest in Fatboxx is gathering pace in the UK. The system is being used by specialists including Olleco, Arrow Edible Oils, Henry Colbeck and O’Hara Oils to collect and convert used cooking oil into biofuel or renewable energy. Grundon Waste Management collects food waste before converting it into green electricity and fertiliser at specialist anaerobic digestion facilities.
Peter Ridley is managing director of Peter Ridley waste systems, the exclusive distributor in the UK and Ireland for P. Henkel, manufacturer of FatBoxx