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August 9, 2011

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Most cooking oil not properly recycled

LESS than a third of Shanghai's waste cooking oil is being recycled into diesel fuel, and there are fears that the rest is being reused in out-of town restaurants.

The reuse of waste kitchen oil is not only unsanitary but considered highly harmful to health, the city's food and drug administration officials said yesterday.

The pursuit of higher profits and the lack of government incentives to ensure the safe processing of such swill oil could be the reasons behind the illegal practice, said industry insiders.

Shanghai produces about 100 tons of waste cooking oil, mostly from 40,000 licensed restaurants, daily, according to a recent report by food safety and sanitation watchdogs.

The city government provides subsidies to two companies in Shanghai who can process waste oil into diesel fuel. However, the companies say the subsidies are too low to allow them to compete with out-of-town buyers keen to buy waste oil from collectors.

"There are nearly 23 million people in the city and the number of restaurants keeps rising. The more developed the industry, the larger amount of swill oil it produces each day," said Chen Juanjuan, secretary of the Shanghai Cuisine Association.

But of the 100 tons of waste oil produced each day, only about 30 tons at most are being send to two authorized mills to be recycled into diesel, according to the companies who complain of a lack of supply.

"We could process 40 tons per day at standard capacity but now, the average amount of oil processed is only nine to 10 tons," Xu Zhenye, deputy manager of the Zhongqi Environment Technology Co Ltd, told a local radio station yesterday.

"We recently slashed the labor force by half and only operate two days a week because we need to accumulate enough supplies of oil," Xu said.

At a recent meeting attended by local watchdogs supervising food and environmental safety, government officials admitted more efforts were needed to prevent local collectors selling oil outside of Shanghai.

Government officials said there were about 20 licensed oil collectors in the city.

Some claimed to have signed legal long-term contracts with out-of-town buyers so that they had to restrict supplies to the local oil processors.


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