By converting used cooking oil into other products, this project contributes both to climatic and environmental protection and to improving the living conditions of a marginalised group.
In cooperation with our local partner organisation, the regional Caritas, we support five cooperatives of waste pickers in processing used cooking oil into biodiesel, and in selling this product. Local partner enterprises of the cooperatives as well as restaurants, hotels, canteens and fast-food outlets provide their used cooking oil, which is then being collected by the waste pickers and treated in a processing facility. By blending the used cooking oil with additives, biodiesel is produced, as well as the by-product glycerine. In a simple process, glycerine can be recycled into soap and sold. The cooperatives have purchase agreements for the biodiesel with various partner enterprises, which guarantee the sale of these waste-oil-derived products and thereby an additional regular income for the waste pickers.
122 waste picker families generate an additional monthly income of around CHF 35.00 (110 reais) or an extra 16% from converting the waste oil and selling the resulting products. It helps them to cover the costs of their basic needs, such as better housing conditions, or schooling for their children. Part of the profit goes into a solidarity fund, which is primarily used to cover the operating and maintenance costs of the processing facility. The remaining cash of the fund serves to support families in emergency situations (for example in case of illness). Decisions of who receives which amount are taken in a participatory and transparent process.
Besides income generation, the project's aim is also to boost the waste pickers' self-esteem and enable them to assert their rights as citizens. To this end, various workshops are organised. Moreover, the responsibility for operating the plant and administering the solidarity fund is gradually passed to the waste pickers.
At the same time, the project makes an important contribution to climate and environmental protection. Converting used vegetable oil into biodiesel leads to a reduction in resource consumption and CO2 emissions. Moreover, the low aromatics and sulphur content of biodiesel lower the emission of sulphur dioxide, and also leads to a reduction in the emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and fine dust. Glycerine, which is a by-product of processing the used cooking oil, is processed into soap, so that no harmful waste products result during production. The collection of used cooking oil contributes to groundwater protection, as less oil ends up in the wastewater. Awareness-raising of the population and lobbying the political authorities on environmental issues are further important aspects of the project. Information materials are produced and restaurants, hotels and fast-food outlets providing used oil are labelled as environmentally-friendly enterprises.