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RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil) - Insights

Penned by- Dr. Prathiksha

Eddited by- Ms. Jasmitha

Food Business Operators (FBOs) often use the same cooking oil for repeated frying. The consumption of Used Cooking Oil (UCO) poses adverse health effects since polar compounds are formed during frying. The quality of cooking oil is measured as the percentage of Total Polar Compounds (TPC) in the oil. These compounds are associated with several diseases such as Hypertension, Atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Liver diseases, and so on. What could be the best way to avoid these health issues without even wasting the UCO?

Energy needs of the world are increasing day by day. This has given birth to the idea of the fuel for the future: Bio-fuel. Bio-fuel is a sustainable, eco-friendly source of energy that can be created from UCO. On 10th August 2018, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil). It is an initiative that enables the collection and conversion of UCO to bio-diesel. Large scale users of cooking oil, such as restaurants, hotels, and food processing industries can be divided into three types of users.

User 1: This user uses the oil multiple times even if the oil has turned dark and greasy.

User 2: This user uses the oil till it is burnt out and turns dark. To reuse it further, they top it up with new oil.

User 3: This user stops the usage of the oil after 1-3 cycles.

In the first two cases, the oil is extremely unfit for consumption and is a health hazard. The used cooking oil is not disposed of at all or is disposed of in an environmentally hazardous manner. Sometimes it is sold to soaps and detergent industries and sometimes it even finds its way to smaller restaurants, dhabas, and street vendors through spurious dealers who buy the UCO, filters it, and resell it. So the sole purpose of RUCO is ‘to STOP and WATCH whether we can further use that oil for cooking’. If the standards of the UCO have reached the TPC of 25 percent, it is time to dispose it off.

Some of the tips to reuse the cooking oil: Ideally, we should use the oil for frying only once. The oil used once can be filtered and used for curries and the leftover oil must be used within 2 days after frying.

People usually dispose the UCO and clog the drain pipes which is perhaps the most illogical thing to do. But now, there is an opportunity to earn money out of it. We can sell the UCO to bio-diesel aggregators who are registered with state or national bio-diesel board. They will further give the oil to bio-diesel manufacturers which can later be used as fuel for vehicles. To facilitate this process of collection and conversion of UCO, FSSAI and BDAI (Bio Diesel Authority of India) have currently recognized 64 companies, 200 aggregators and some 26 plants in 101 locations. The FSSAI has directed the FBOs (food channels like McDonald’s, KFC, Burger king, etc) to maintain a record of utilization and disposal of cooking oil by them. Especially for those who use more than 50 liters of cooking oil per day. Also, they have to monitor the TPC of the cooking oil regularly.

How does the model work?

The aggregators have their own vehicle with a driver and two helpers collecting UCO from eateries, hubs and restaurants, which is then converted into bio-diesel. RUCO has developed an app for Android and iOS users. The food business owner or oil discharger can request for a pick-up of the UCO on the app. The food business owners earn Rs 30 per kg for the waste oil that they give away under the project. The fuel recovery rate is mostly between 70 per cent and 90 per cent. It implies that 10 liters of oil with a TPC of 25 per cent or below can generate 9 liters of clean fuel. RUCO is currently running in Gujarat, Delhi-NCR, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.

We as an individual need to stand with RUCO to acquire its benefits since it not only ensures health benefits, but, spurs economic growth by ensuring job creation, foreign exchange saving, and aids a healthy environment.

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