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Published on: Jan. 20, 2022, 5:18 p.m.
ARIS BioEnergy’s mission: From frying pan to fuel tank
  • Waghdhare: making society greener and healthier

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

Haldiram, the Taj group of hotels and Barbeque Nation are a few of the retailers who supply used cooking oil (UCO) to Umesh Waghdhare’s ARIS BioEnergy Pvt Ltd  which has carved out a niche converting it into bio-fuel. “Initially it was tough to collect the UCO. Aggregation was the biggest challenge,” explains Waghdhare, MD at ARIS, “but we did it with our team collecting it on electric vehicles from the outlets with a mission to promote sustainable fuel development by converting UCO into bio-fuel. We are going gentle on the environment by using EVs to collect UCO from various outlets.”

In January 2018, Waghdhare started ARIS, exploring this uncharted territory of the biodiesel sector, and realised the need for an intense network model to aggregate UCO. Within three months of its inception, he and his team collected approximately 25,000 kg of UCO from 8,000-plus eateries and retail outlets in Mumbai. ABPL is an eco start-up, which has helped reduce approximately 2.75 million kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while creating green jobs and preventing 1,500 tonnes of UCO from entering water bodies or being used for adulteration. 

ARIS, backed by technology, legitimises UCO by collecting from eateries and supplying it to biodiesel manufacturers. Their network of collection partners pick up UCO on a set schedule and reach every food business operator (FBO) in the shortest possible time. The technology used tracks every drop of oil through a mobile app from the point of pickup to the point it is converted to biodiesel – leaving no room for any spills or wastage during the process of collection.

Their network of collection partners, who are readily available for scheduled pick-ups of filled cans, approach each UCO producer with collection cans and place the cans on their premises. The UCO cans are bar-coded and sealed before being transported to the refinery, ensuring a hassle-free experience.

It is estimated that on an average, each person in the country consumes 18 kg of oil every year, which accounts for an annual consumption of approximately 24 million tonnes of edible oil. Small quantities of UCO are spread across thousands of outlets and around 30 per cent of edible oil is consumed in commercial establishments like hotels, eateries, restaurants, canteens, cafes, as well as many food manufacturers (for instance those that produce chips).

“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 change. It also leads to the formation of total polar compounds (TPC), which make the oil unfit for human consumption. FSSAI, the regulating body, has notified the limit of TPC to be not more than 25 per cent, beyond which the oil is unsafe for human consumption,” says a chef at a five-star hotel.

Once edible oil becomes unfit for human consumption, it needs to be discarded properly. Most UCO is wrongly discarded and dumped into the environment through aquatic sewage. 

According to oilcare.org.uk, one litre of oil can contaminate one million litres of water. “Hundreds of tonnes of UCO are disposed of into drains and water bodies every month. Many a time, UCO is resold to street vendors for frying. Our mission is to aggregate used cooking oil from thousands of eateries or food business operators and convert it to biodiesel,” says Waghdhare who has been doing this from major points in Maharashtra as well as other neighbouring states such as Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Telangana in just the last six months. Their first biodiesel plant is coming up in Khapoli in Maharashtra in 2022.

For the refinery, Waghdhare has signed a joint venture agreement with Green Fuels UK, a manufacturer of biodiesel plants. “We will have them as our technology partner to build refineries throughout the country.  These biofuels are 95 per cent carbon-free which increases the life of the engines and is environment-friendly. The collected UCO is converted into 100 per cent biofuel after the transesterification process with glycerine as the by-product,” sums up Waghdhare who has signed a letter of intent with BPCL to supply biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a renewable and clean-burning fuel. It helps in reducing dependence on imported diesel while creating green jobs and improving the environment. “ARIS was formed with the dual intent of making society greener and a healthier place to live in by leaving behind a cleaner, greener, fossil fuel- and carbon-free environment for future generations. We are reaching out to residential areas and retail outlets to create awareness on the hazardous impact of consuming UCO and also offering a sustainable solution.”

Despite extensive overseas demand for UCO for conversion, ARIS prefers collecting, manufacturing and supplying its production only to its home country India, rather than abroad.

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