Field: Food waste treatment and recovery
Global Technical function: Promoting sustainable practices
Technical Function Unit: Cleaning, Public grant funding for demonstration, Raising consumer awareness
Geographic Area: Austria

FATTY – Used cooking oil collection and utilisation in Styria

The issue of disposing of used cooking oils in a sustainable way has been solved in Styria, Austria through the use of an innovative collection system and the use of the oils as a raw material for biofuel production. 

The challenge
The potential for the collection of used edible oils of private households in Styria is estimated to be 3.600 tons a year. One third of this amount is collected, the rest is inappropriately disposed of down sinks or toilets and ends up in the sewage system. This results in blockages,  offensive smells and problems with biodegradation within the wastewater treatment plant, which in turn leads to higher energy expenditure, cleaning efforts and costs.

The measure
The FATTY initiative for food waste treatment and recovery was launched in 1995 in the region of Styria, Austria, for promoting sustainable practices to collect and recycle waste cooking oils. These are collected in separate containers, from both households and businesses, and then processed to produce biodiesel. The fuel was first used by the region’s bus service, but now sells more widely. The glycerol produced as a by-product is used in biogas plants, or is purified and sold as a raw material to the chemical, pharmaceutical or cosmetic industries. The containers and collection service is free of charge for the public.

The initiative was made possible bythe City administration, which provided the bus-fleet as a customer for the product, the regional waste management authority and the regional public grant funding for demonstration and R&D, which assisted the pilot development of the processing facility. The initiative gives support to business development from re-used raw materials.

In 1999, the provincial government decided to initiate a Styria-wide information campaign for raising consumer awareness and improve the used cooking oil collection service. The objectives and benefits highlighted were:

  • Separately collected used oils represent a valuable raw material for substantial (i.e. soft soap, detergents) and energetic (biodiesel, biogas) utilisation processes.
  • Renewable energy sources give a valuable contribution to the protection of climate.
  • They also contribute to a regional sustainable circular flow economy
  • Minor cleaning efforts within the canal system and therefore savings of public funds.
  • Creation of jobs in the region.

Lessons learnt
A publicity campaign was needed to raise awareness of this matter and the department of waste management makes efforts to promote measures for the separate collection and utilisation of used cooking oils. A learning outcome was that the following contents should be included in the promotion of such initiatives:

  • The use of the separate collection of used cooking oils and fats
  • Educational advertising of existing collection logistics
  • Educational advertising of existing regional utilisation possibilities in Styria.

Further deployment
As the concept is working well and the use of used cooking oils as a raw material for biofuels has been proved to be viable so the estimated general maturity level is GML 7.

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