Used cooking oil recycling mandate


Greasing wheels of green move: Prawn fritter seller YH Chew pouring used cooking oil into a container before handing it to a recycled oil collector at her stall in Weld Quay, George Town. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) will soon make it compulsory for food operators to collect used cooking oil to recycle at designated centres.

The island’s mayor Datuk A. Rajendran said presently, the city council found that used cooking oil was making its way into the sewerage system and eventually the rivers and sea, polluting the environment.

“We will make it easy for food operators to recycle their used cooking oil by setting up collection centres.

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“We are currently in talks with PETRONAS to work out the mechanics to sell the used cooking oil, which can be turned into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO).

“They can be used as a substitute for diesel.

A worker preparing prawn fritters at a stall in Weld Quay, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The StarA worker preparing prawn fritters at a stall in Weld Quay, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

“All profits from the sales will be reinvested into the community,” Rajendran elaborated.

Last November, a Virgin Atlantic passenger jet made history as the first aircraft to operate entirely on SAF, derived from used cooking oil and waste animal fats, for its journey from London in England to New York in USA.

For now, the public in Penang can help to protect the nation’s waterways by dropping off their used cooking oil at participating PETRONAS petrol kiosks.

This will help to promote a circular economy and at the same time, support the imminent production of biofuel in Malaysia.

PETRONAS is paying RM3 for each kilogramme of used cooking oil.

Those keen to know more can visit www.mymesra.com.my/for-consumer/used-cooking-oil.

Rajendran dropping off an old vacuum cleaner and phone at the Pulau Tikus recycling waste collection centre. With him are MBPP secretary Cheong Chee Hong (fifth from right), Koay (third from right) and MBPP councillor Rohaizat Hamid (right).Rajendran dropping off an old vacuum cleaner and phone at the Pulau Tikus recycling waste collection centre. With him are MBPP secretary Cheong Chee Hong (fifth from right), Koay (third from right) and MBPP councillor Rohaizat Hamid (right).

Rajendran also reminded the public to separate waste, as MBPP would be reintroducing its waste segregation-at-source policy starting July 1.

He said a town hall meeting was held with various joint management bodies of flats and condominiums as well as property management companies to ensure that this initiative would be a success.

“Launched in 2017, the initiative was actively promoted in residential areas but enforcement was halted when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020,” he said.

Rajendran explained that MBPP prioritised education over enforcement action such as issuing fines during the period.

New recycling centre

A woman and her son recycling a cardboard box at the collection centre.A woman and her son recycling a cardboard box at the collection centre.

Penang’s denizens can also recycle plastic, paper, aluminium and steel cans in exchange for cash vouchers via a mobile phone app called Riiicycle.

Rajendran, who was speaking to reporters at the launch of a recycling collection centre at 1-Stop Midlands Park Centre, said the app was a platform to reward individuals for adopting eco-friendly practices, driving environmental change.

At the centre, a Riiicycle staff member is usually on hand to collect and weigh recyclables every Friday (5pm to 7pm) and Saturday (1pm to 3pm).

Rajendran said this recycling centre for Pulau Tikus residents and its surrounding area, marked a significant step towards Penang’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

“The state government has launched various initiatives to facilitate recycling.

A Riiicycle staff member weighing the recyclables to be exchanged for cash vouchers at the collection centre.A Riiicycle staff member weighing the recyclables to be exchanged for cash vouchers at the collection centre.

“Last year, Penang generated 412,817 metric tonnes of waste, with 172,492 (metric tonnes) of that amount being recycled.

“Despite a 41.78% recycling rate, a significant amount of recyclables still ends up in landfills.

“The new collection centre aims to address this issue by providing convenient recycling facilities for the public,” he said.

Rajendran commended the Sewerage Services Department staff for transforming the waste depot into a recycling facility.

They also painted a mural and decorated the space with recycled materials.

He emphasised the importance of public participation in maintaining cleanliness and preserving the environment.

“Everyone should embrace waste separation and recycling as collective responsibilities, and I commend the Penang Green Council (PGC) for their educational initiatives, such as the Green Camp for primary schoolchildren, which is aimed at fostering environmental awareness from a young age,” he said.

MBPP councillor Koay Gaik Kee, who led the recycling centre project, said in her speech that the increase in population and rise of food industries had led to a significant surge in waste generation.

“In 2023, Penang island residents produced an average of 700 metric tonnes of waste daily, comprising 35% recyclable materials.

“This alarming trend necessitates immediate action to improve solid waste management.

“The transformation of the waste depot into a recycling waste collection centre was inspired by the urgent need for efficient waste disposal solutions.

“This new recycling hub is designed to facilitate proper waste disposal for residents, ensuring that recyclable materials are not sent to the Pulau Burong waste disposal site, but are instead repurposed into raw materials for new products,” she said.

Koay also emphasised the importance of continuous education in fostering environmental responsibility within the community, particularly among the younger generation.

She expressed gratitude to PGC for its collaboration with MBPP in conducting Green Camps based on the “learn while playing” concept, aimed at engaging participants in activities that promoted critical thinking and environmental stewardship.

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