The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas observed world Biofuel Day on 10 August 2018. Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi was the Chief Guest for its inaugural session. Speaking on the Occasion the Prime Minister said “India is bestowed with abundant resources, which are sustainable and eco-friendly options to produce biofuels. Therefore, its production and consumption should be encouraged in every way possible. The usage of biofuels has the potential to change the lives of all Indian citizens”.
On this occasion, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched RUCO – Repurpose Used Cooking Oil. RUCO is an ecosystem that will enable the collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel. India is one of the largest consumers of vegetable oil and so has the potential to recover almost 220 crore litre of Used Cooking Oil (UCO) for the production of biodiesel by the year 2022. Coincidently RUCO in Hindi means stop, and so RUCO will serve as a word of caution to businesses and consumers to step back and stop usage of the cooking oil that has been repeated heated for frying foods.
Shri Sandeep Chaturvedi, President, BDAI said at the launch that the National Biofuel Policy along with FSSAI initiative and regulations is a unique combination that will generate 10,800 crore of UCO and will create around 80,000 direct and indirect jobs within two years. He also added that the Indian figures are very similar to its Chinese counterpart where the present total UCO discharge is about 3 million tons and the potential exports are about 1 million tons. Currently, China exports about 30-40,000 MT of UCO per month to Europe. India can take the example of its Chinese counterpart.
The Government, vide notification dated 29th June 2017 has permitted the direct sale of Biodiesel (B-100) for blending with High-Speed Diesel to all consumers, in accordance with specified blending limits and standards specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). During 2017-18, Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) procured 4.36 crore litres of bio-diesel against 3.59 crore litres in 2016-17. For 2018-19, LoIs have been issued by OMCs for procurement of 8.63 crore litres of bio-diesel. Additionally, GST rates on biodiesel have been reduced from 18% to 12% in January 2018. There is a further case to reduce and keep it at par with ethanol.
Speaking on the same occasion, Shri Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI said that biodiesel produced from used cooking oil in India is currently very small, but with the rapid setting up of a robust ecosystem for conversion and collection, it will reach a sizable scale. FSSAI wants businesses using more than 100 litres of oil for frying, to maintain a stock register and ensure that UCO is handed over only to registered collecting agencies. There is a possibility that a regulation will be developed for the same as well as a RUCO mark which will be issued to all the complying companies for use.
Additionally, FSSAI has launched a micro-site to monitor the progress of the collection and conversion of UCO to biodiesel. Sixty-Four companies have been identified thus far at 101 locations across the country to enable collection of UCO. McDonald’s is already converting its used cooking oil to biodiesel from 100 outlets in Mumbai and Pune as of today. Bangalore based ECO Green Fuels is also currently converting approximately 1200 tonnes of UCO to biodiesel annually. Another company in Delhi/NCR Biod Energy (India) Pvt Ltd has a plant that produces 100 tonnes per day in Bawal, Haryana. Kaleesuwari Refinery Pvt Ltd has a biodiesel plant and is in the process of rolling out the conversion mechanism. Further, an Austrian company has also set up a collection system in Mumbai.
On the education front, FSSAI is currently publishing guidance documents, tips for consumers and posters. Leading the bandwagon and being one of the most active government bodies on social media, it has undertaken several awareness campaigns through its e-channels. The regulator has released regulations and standardised test methods to ensure enforcement of used cooking oil. With the RUCO ecosystem, FSSAI enables effective repurposing of UCO. As of now, used cooking oil is either not discarded at all or is disposed in an environmentally hazardous manner and sometimes even finds its way to smaller restaurants, dhaabas, and street vendors.
Just about a month ago the FSSAI had laid down regulations to monitor the usage of used cooking oil. These regulations prescribe the limit for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) to be a maximum 25%, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption. FSSAI is now working in partnership with Biodiesel Association of India (BDAI) and the food industry to ensure effective compliance of UCO standards. The FSSAI is also implementing an Education, Enforcement, and Ecosystem (EEE) strategy to divert UCO from the food value chain and curb current illegal practices. These moves will ensure good health and welfare of 130-crore citizens, aiding energy security, climate change mitigation, and leading to environmentally sustainable development.