Last year Living Fuels put in place a charity drive structure to raise money for local causes while collecting used cooking oil for recycling. Operations director Rob Murphy explains how it has been beneficial for all
As a by-product of our daily lives, cooking oil has been a problem waste in the UK for a long time. According to the Consumer Council for Water, it costs around £15 million each year in drain repairs and when sent to landfill, oil can often leak polluting watercourses and harming local wildlife. Environmentally conscious residents are not always sure of the correct way to dispose of their oil – if they are unable to place it in the bin, or down drains as their parents before them probably did, then where can they get rid of it?
In 2008 Living Fuels began to place fully bunded used cooking oil collection tanks at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) in the East Anglian region. Since then, the business has expanded and now has hundreds of tanks placed around the UK. Our ethos is easy. Disposing of oil at household waste recycling sites is not only an easy way to rid yourself of waste cooking oil, it’s also the most sustainable way to recycle oil, as we will recover it into renewable energy for the National Grid.
To make disposing of waste cooking oil even more rewarding, we decided to create a three month sustained campaign to increase the volume of oil generated at sites in a specific county. The aim of the event is to give back to communities while at the same time helping the environment. Having previously worked with prisons on charity campaigns, where a donation was made to a charity based on the amount of oil collected each year, supporting a charity in partnership with local councils and waste contractors seemed like a natural progression. Where possible, we work with a local charity, however the final decision on the beneficiary is with the waste contractors.
Living Fuels initiated our charity drive structure in Merseyside in July of 2012. Veolia Merseyside was really supportive of what we were trying to do, and we got a great response from the public almost straight away. The Merseyside campaign resulted in a staggering threefold increase in oil collection on the previous quarter’s figures and £750 raised for local children’s charity Alder Hey Hospital.
During the second campaign, in Wiltshire, where we partnered with Hills Waste Solutions and Wiltshire Council, the campaign generated more media coverage than in Merseyside, with a total of 22 articles in regional press and radio interviews with the BBC Radio Wiltshire and Heart FM. Twitter and Facebook were used throughout the campaign making connections with events such as Pancake Day and National Chip Week where cooking oil would be used. Updates were placed on the companies’ and charity’s websites and leaflets advertising the campaign were distributed at Wiltshire’s 11 HWRCs. In total there was a fourfold increase on the previous quarter’s figures. The campaign raised an amazing £1,300 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the final press release featured a photo with the ambulance team, which made for a great visual image.
Hills Waste Solutions was really pleased with the popularity and outcome of the campaign, which it thought was a novel way for residents to make a donation to a worthwhile charity while also recycling.
Currently, Living Fuels are working in Suffolk, in a campaign which started at the beginning of this month. The chosen charity is St John Ambulance and we hope to raise even more than in previous campaigns. Better start cooking those sausages.