Restaurant aggregator and food delivery service Zomato and biodiesel manufacturer BioD Energy have inked a partnership to collect used cooking oil from restaurants around the country so that it can be converted into biodiesel, which will then be sold to oil marketing companies that will blend it with regular diesel.
The government has been pushing hard for used cooking oil in the country to be converted into biodiesel as an environment friendly measure. Through the partnership, Zomato and BioD are aiming to collect 1,000 tonnes of used cooking oil per month and converting this into biodiesel.
“The idea was to look at some of the deep-rooted problems in the restaurant industry that affect health and the environment,” Ritesh Khera, spokesperson at Zomato, said in an interview. “We are looking at one of the biggest culprits in the industry, which is used cooking oil and are trying to solve the main problem of the responsible disposal of it.”
A lot of times, Mr. Khera said, the used cooking oil is given to small vendors and there is no traceability of how they dispose of the oil, and most of the techniques used are not in line with the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
“We have been collecting used cooking oil for the last two-and-a-half years and the biggest challenge we have faced is scaling it and increasing our collection rate,” Shiva Vig, CEO of BioD Energy said. “Because of our challenges, we decided that let us focus on our expertise, which is biodiesel production and partner with Zomato for their reach and their tech to take out as much used cooking oil from the kitchens as possible.”
At the outset, Zomato is looking to tap into 1,000 kitchens in Delhi NCR and expand the collection drive with BioD to five cities by next month. It will provide special bar-coded containers for the used cooking oil, which Zomato will then periodically pick up and take to a storage unit. Once enough oil is collected, it will be transported to BioD’s plant, which is equipped to convert used cooking oil to biodiesel.
The government recently announced a scheme wherein the State-run oil marketing companies would offtake the entire biodiesel production from companies using used cooking oil as raw materials. The National Policy on Biofuels 2018, released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, has set a target of 5% for biodiesel blending in diesel by 2030.
“Within the next six months, by March, we are looking at 1,000 tonnes per month of used cooking oil being collected,” Mr. Khera said. “FSSAI estimates that there should theoretically be about a million tonnes of used cooking oil available in the country every year. The ground realities are very different and the numbers we see are much smaller than this.”
Mr. Vig agrees with this assessment, saying that after two-and-a-half years of operation, his company manages to only collect about 80-100 tonnes per month.