U.K. protocol cuts red tape for waste oil feedstocks

By Ryan C. Christiansen | August 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 13, 2008 at 10:43 a.m. CST

A new draft quality protocol issued by the British government paves the way for producers in the United Kingdom to commercially convert waste cooking oil and rendered animal fats into biodiesel without having to treat biodiesel as waste.

The Environment Agency, a non-departmental public body that is accountable directly to Parliament, together with the Waste and Resources Action Program, a non-profit organization, issued the protocol under the EA's Waste Protocols Project following a 2007 appeals court ruling that biodiesel manufactured from waste products is no longer a waste product and therefore doesn't need to be regulated as waste. The ruling led to the development of the quality protocol. An original November 2006 British High Court ruling said that waste-derived biodiesel did not cease to be waste until it had been burnt in an engine.

British regulations state that if waste material from one category of waste is mixed with material from another category of waste, then that mixture must be allocated to the higher risk category. Each category of waste must be handled, stored, transported, and disposed of according to specific waste management controls. If biodiesel were to be continued to be seen as a waste product, then biodiesel produced from a mixture of vegetable oil and animal fat might be considered to be a Category 1 "very high risk" waste material if the animal fat included tallow from animals "suspected or confirmed as being infected by Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) such as scrapie in sheep or [Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)] in cattle." In the United States, BSE is known as Mad Cow Disease.

The new quality protocol cuts regulatory red tape for the estimated 75,000 metric tons of waste vegetable oil that is used annually to produce biodiesel in the United Kingdom. A final version of the quality protocol is expected to be published in the spring of 2009.
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