ake used cooking oil to meet EU demand could be causing deforestation, according to a new report, which calls for improved traceability and monitoring.
Current EU sustainability rules cannot guarantee that UCO being put to work in Europe is fully traced and sustainable. “Already more than half the used cooking oil in Europe for biodiesel is imported… it is not possible to conclude that all the used cooking oil used in Europe is sustainable.”
It says, “An increase in the demand of vegetable oils such as palm oil to fill the gap would indirectly lead to deforestation, destruction of habitats and biodiversity, [and increased] greenhouse gas emissions.”
Used cooking oil is often traded at a higher price than virgin oil because of its value in meeting national climate targets. This means that virgin oil could be fraudulently mixed with used oil imports.
The briefing points to a statement in 2016 by the European Court of Auditors that double-counting may have led to fraudulent practices.
China supplies 34 per cent of Europe’s UCO imports while 19 per cent comes from major palm oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia
“The possibility of double counting biofuels produced from waste and residues has led to a situation where biodiesel produced from UCO ‘is often traded at a higher price than biodiesel from vegetable oil’. This entailed a risk of virgin oil being adulterated to be sold as UCO.”
To avoid these risks, the EU must ramp up verification and monitoring requirements along the supply chain – including checks to detect and prevent adulterated UCO from entering the biofuels market. Also needed are detailed assessments of the quantities of UCO available in the EU member states.
According to the EU Renewable Energy Directive, used cooking oil can deliver greenhouse gas reductions of up to 90 per cent compared to fossil fuels. Since 2011 its use has tripled and today it represents almost 20 per cent of the total biodiesel production in Europe .
China supplies 34 per cent of Europe’s UCO imports while 19 per cent comes from major palm oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia combined.
Within a decade the volume Europe needs could double to six million tonnes as EU countries strive to meet targets for renewable fuels in transport. This in turn could trigger palm oil being used to replace cooking oil in exporting countries while also incentivising fraud.
A December study said, biodiesel production in the EU and UK is dominated by five Member States: Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.