Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - Page 5 News List

EPA releases waste oil program results

EXPANSION:The tracer program is to be expanded to 10 more cities and counties this year, with each having a unique tracer to allow for tracking and management

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Monday published the preliminary results of a waste cooking oil tracking program using an independently developed tracer, which could help prevent used oil from entering the food supply or animal husbandry sector.

In a trial program conducted in Taoyuan over the past year, local environmental agencies were able to track the flow of waste cooking oil from restaurants and food stands by applying different tracers to used oil during different stages of recycling and reprocessing, EPA Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥) said.

One type of tracer was added to waste cooking oil generated by restaurants and food stands, another type was applied to oil collected by recycling companies and a third kind was added to oil transferred to reprocessing facilities, allowing for the management of the source and flow of used oil, Wei said.

There are 3,221 dining facilities in the city that produce waste cooking oil and only 50 of them volunteered to pilot the tracer program, but they were enough to trace waste oil circulating in the city, as major recycling facilities, which handled almost all the waste oil in the city, were included in the program, Taoyuan Department of Environmental Protection Director Shen Chih-hsiu (沈志修) said.

Wei said there is no plan to legislate the use of the tracer, which is still being tested.

“The tracer is a legal enforcement tool and it has a deterrent effect, as it intimidates potential violators. The tracer can also be commercialized, and the EPA plans to assess the possibility and profitability of selling tracers to the food industry or other nations, and use the revenue for food safety or environmental purposes,” Wei said.

Animal testing showed that the tracers have no effect on pigs, even if any tracer-containing waste oil is illegally reused in animal feed, EPA Environmental Analysis Laboratory Acting Director Yen Chun-lan (顏春蘭) said.

The tracer program is to be expanded to 10 more cities and counties this year to establish a national tracking network, with each municipality having a unique tracer to allow inspectors to identify the source and intermediate destinations of a batch of waste oil, Yen said.

The nation generates an estimated 51,000 to 78,000 tonnes of waste cooking oil each year, 77 percent of which is produced by small restaurants and food stands that are not required to report their use of oil via the EPA’s online system, she said.

Yen said that 97 percent of used cooking oil is handled by recycling facilities, with 64 percent of oil recycled into biodiesel, plasticizer, lubricating oil and soap, while the other 36 percent is exported.

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