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Used cooking oil to biodiesel: Aris Green Fuels to set up 20 biodiesel plants in India

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ARIS has a registered base of 21000+ eateries ranging from five-star hotels to street vendors, which is growing in numbers. They are increasing their collection capacity at the rate of 20% every quarter.

What do you do with cooking oil that’s fulfilled its life frying yummies for you? A household would have a limited quantity of such oil but establishments like restaurants and office pantries have considerable quantities to deal with. This used oil can be put to a good use, as Umesh Waghdhare, Founder and Managing Director, Aris BioEnergy tells us in this interview. Aris also uses electric vehicles for the purpose of used oil collection. Where is this oil collected from and what are the challenges & opportunities faced by this industry? Waghdhare tells us more.

What is the current expanse of ARIS’ business in terms of sourcing used cooking oil?

Presently, ARIS has a registered base of 21000+ eateries ranging from five-star hotels to street vendors, which is growing in numbers. They are increasing their collection capacity at the rate of 20% every quarter.

If we consider per Ca-pita consumption of India, every individual consumes 18 kg of oil per annum. 70% goes for household consumption and 30% for the commercial consumption. Considering aggregation only in Maharashtra, ARIS estimation of collection is that of 150 – 200 tons/day in next 2 years.

Which states and cities is ARIS working in? What are the expansion plans?

What started as a pure business financial decision, knowing the potential of the market company understood the health & adulteration concerns and, soon turned into a bridge between the preparation industry and the consumption with sustainability and environmental hazard in mind.

The aggregation business turned out to be noble. The company aggregates used cooking oils from the eateries, restaurants, manufacturers, food producers and lays it at their hub (in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur and Nashik) and sends it to the bio diesel refineries who are enrolled with FSSAI to process it into bio diesel. ARIS has been aggregating from the major parts of Maharashtra. They have expanded their operations in Goa, Gujarat (Rajkot and Ahmadabad), and Karnataka (Bengaluru). Very soon, the aggregation will begin in Telangana too.

Would you share tie-ups if any, that ARIS has within the automotive industry in India? What do these entail?

ARIS has collaborated with a UK Company – Green Fuels limited which is one of the leading manufacturers of bio refinery plants. ARIS and Green Fuels have a Joint Venture company called ARIS Green Fuels. The JV will be setting up 20 Biodiesel plants throughout the country.

The understanding allows both the companies to focus on their core strengths – ARIS on aggregation and expansion and Green fuel in setting up world class refineries. ARIS, estimates that they will be requiring series of small refineries of almost 20,000 – 50,000 kg/day conversion.

The new JV Company already has a LOI from the OMC’s to buy out the bio diesel produced from their unit. The 1st refinery is coming up in Khopoli in Maharashtra. Also, with their unique technology intervention ARIS Green Fuels JV will look forward to producing ATF in the coming years.

Does the process of making biofuel from UCO result in any wastage? How is that dealt with?

The process ARIS will follow will be a minimal wastage manufacturing setup, the collected UCO is converted into biofuel after the transesterification process with glycerin as the bi-product. The UCO based Biodiesel produces 95% less carbon emission compared to fossil fuel hence totally environment friendly.

Also read: Remotely operated farm equipment to improve productivity & operator safety: Tata Elxsi

What are the current challenges that the biofuel industry is facing in India? Is there help from the government in terms of policies and reforms?

There is a lot of awareness, especially after goal setting at the COP26 summit and it is very encouraging. FSSAI, the regulatory body has notified in their guidelines that the limit of Total Polar Compounds (TPC) should not exceed 25% during frying, beyond which the oil is unsafe for human consumption.

We need policies to regulate used cooking oil’s transfer and discard. The food department has to consistently be educating Common citizen and commercial users to avoid topping up the oil while frying and to stop the discard of used oil into the drains or to the illicit channels. Together, there should be a stringent implementation of the policy for food operators to not move the oil anywhere else except for the refining process – the only way forward to achieving in hundred folds. There can be incentives to encourage operators to follow these policies till it becomes a norm.

There isn’t much awareness or means on the correct disposal of UCO in domestic households. Can ARIS help change this? Do you think a business model involving the collection of UCO from households would be potent?

It is estimated that on average, each person in the country consumes 18 kg of oil every year which approximately accounts for 24 Million MT of edible oil consumption every year. During the process of frying, the quality of oil deteriorates, and when the same oil is repeatedly used in frying, its physicochemical, nutritional, and sensory properties changes. It also leads to the formation of Total Polar Compounds (TPC), which makes the oil unfit for human consumption. And once the edible oil becomes unfit for human consumption, the oil needs a proper discard.

Most of the Used Cooking Oil is wrongly discarded and dumped into the environment through aquatic sewage. 1 litre of oil can contaminate 1 million litres of water, according to the Oil Care Campaign. ARIS is addressing all these concerns by displacing the UCO out of the ecosystem with the concept of aggregation.

We are reaching out to residential areas and retail outlets to create awareness on the hazardous impact of consuming UCO and also are offering a sustainable solution. Currently these are in primary level. We have undertaken numerous activities with local authorities, NGOs, Residential societies, schools & colleges to spread awareness among our citizens. We will be strengthening our initiatives & you will hear of many such campaigns lead by Aris Bio Energy in the coming future.

– ARIS creates green jobs and uses Electronic Vehicles (EVs) to collect UCO from various outlets. Currently, we have around 20-21 EVs that are operational for collection.

– Backed by technology, ARIS legitimizes UCO by collecting from eateries and supplying them to biodiesel manufacturers.

– The technology used tracks every drop of oil through a mobile app from the point of pickup till the point it is supplied to the refinery – leaving no room for any spills or wastages during the process.

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