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Biodiesel in schools: a UK first

Tony Rollinson |
Monday, 20th February 2012

A community charity has recently installed the very first used cooking oil recycling point at a local school. For the past four years, CSV Environment has been running the Grease Lightening Project, which is financed by the Big Lottery Fund and Severn Trent Water. The project, which works with local schools and community groups, aims to convert waste cooking fats, oils and grease (FOG) into a cheap, environmentally friendly biodiesel which in turn can reduce the running costs of school minibuses and community vehicles. Ladypool Junior and Infant School in Birmingham was the first member of the Grease Lightening Project to unveil their own 'Used Cooking Oil Collection Point' in November.

Ladypool

Ladypool Junior and Infant School, Birmingham was the first member of the Grease Lightening Project

The school now has the first cooking oil recycling point in Birmingham, outside of the general Household Recycling Centres across the city such as Castle Bromwich and Tyseley which also contribute to the Grease Lightening Project. The new facility will allow pupils to bring waste FOG into school from home, which can be recycled by the school into a low-carbon biofuel which can power their minibus for as little as 30p/litre.

Liz Manley, Head Teacher of Ladypool School said that: "Since Ladypool Primary school was struck by a tornado in 2005, staff and children have been looking for a way in which we could make a positive impact with our local community and have a positive effect on global and environmental change. Grease Lightening seemed like the perfect solution! We are asking parents and pupils to collect recyclable waste cooking oil from home, which we can then process and convert into biodiesel to fuel our minibus. This will save valuable material resources and decrease our schools carbon footprint. We are all excited about the real difference we can make and hope that local businesses and restaurants will join in and become Grease Lighting Champions too!"

The scheme works in areas of Birmingham with a particularly high level of blocked sewers, caused by waste FOG which is wrongly disposed of via drains in households and restaurants. Through educational awareness and community engagement, people will have the opportunity to turn a troublesome waste product into a valuable commodity which can benefit their local area. This will in turn increase recycling and promote new ideas.

Grease Lightening operates in Balsall Heath, Ladywood, Saltley, Small Heath and Sparkbrook where fast food chains and restaurants create a demand for the disposal of over 250,000 litres of waste cooking products annually. The incorrect disposal of waste cooking products, such as pouring them down sinks and drains, leads to blockages in the sewerage system, water contamination, household flooding, and even flooding in streets and parks. This attracts rodents creating even greater environmental health concerns. Working in conjunction with Severn Trent Water the campaign has shown significant positive results. There has been a considerable reduction in sewer flooding incidents which will help reduce the ever increasing rodent population. 

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