Increased household collection of used cooking oil means better climate protection

In line with the EU Green deal agenda, with the Federal Climate Protection Act Germany has set itself the ambitious goal of linearly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport to 95 million tons of CO2-eq by 2030, writes Hubert Zenk.

In order to achieve the annual climate targets, short and medium-term climate effective measures are required to mitigate the emissions also of the existing vehicle fleet.

The consumption of more waste-based biodiesel, e.g. from used cooking oils, is one of such measures. In Germany, the use of waste-based biodiesel already saved 3.6 million t CO2-eq in road transport in 2018. In 2019 it was 2.9 million t CO2-eq. This is made possible because waste-based biodiesel is characterized by a particularly high greenhouse gas reduction of more than 90% compared to fossil diesel. The aim must therefore be to collect every drop of used cooking oils in order to produce highly sustainable biodiesel.

In many countries, used cooking oils are already being collected from restaurants and the food industry. But their full potential is far from being reached. Especially because the used cooking oil from households is usually not collected. This is the case in Germany, where the amount of used cooking oil that can be collected from households is estimated to be over 100,000 t per year. Increased collection has additional positive effects because many households dispose of their used cooking oil down the drain into the sewer system, where it can contribute to the formation of so-called “fatbergs”.

A professional collection of used cooking oils from households that could be successfully implemented in any EU Member State has been recently tested in Germany by the Lesch Altfettrecycling company and the MVaK association as project partners in the DBU-funded project “Jeder Tropfen Zählt” (Every drop counts). This project had an overwhelmingly positive response in the communities in which it was tested, with the most tangible result being that the cities of Erlangen and Fürth have now decided to introduce the collection throughout the city.

During the 18-month pilot project residents of the districts of Erlangen, Fürth, and Roth, in Bavaria, were given 1.2-liter reusable collection containers and collection machines were set up in the test regions, where  filled collection containers can be exchanged for empty ones. The collected quantities of used cooking oil exceeded the expectations after a short time. At the same time, many municipalities from other regions of Germany showed interest in introducing a collection there as well.

“The interest in expanding the collection of used cooking oils nationwide is obvious. The benefits for climate protection and environmental protection are undisputed”, says Detlef Evers, managing director of the MVaK. “Now the German  government has to send the right signals for a further expansion of the collection in the framework of the national RED II implementation,” continues Evers, “the limitation for the use of waste-based biofuels must be raised further. And the greenhouse gas reduction quota must be increased immediately and not only in 2024.”

Hubert Zenk is the General Manager of the UCO collector company Jeder Tropfen Zählt GmbH.

This article was first published on December 3rd 2020 at