Written by Alina Doodnath for LoopTT
Ever wondered what some people do with their old cooking oil?
Before Ecoimpact, the oil would probably have been poured down the drain or buried in a landfill.
Studies have shown that the improper disposal of wastes oils leads to the direct and indirect pollution of waterways, coastal areas and soils nationwide.
Their presence in the natural environment poses severe ecological and human health implications as the contaminants in these oils can be toxic to all living organisms.
In fact, in Trinidad and Tobago, waste oils account for the majority of the total amount of hazardous wastes.
However, ten years ago yoga practitioner and environmentalist, Troy Hadeed, took action to change this at a time when few companies were concerned with environmental sustainability.
He created the first waste oil collection company in the country, Ecoimpact Company Limited, in 2009.
Hadeed, who is the managing director of One Yoga Trinidad and Tobago, even modified his vehicle to use waste cooking oil as fuel and looked into the options for starting up a waste oil refinery. However, the process would require large-scale resources which he couldn’t provide at the time. He decided to collect waste cooking oil for export.
“I took everything I had and put it into what people thought was a waste of money. Many people told me I was wasting my money, that it wouldn’t be profitable, but off the bat it started to do well,” he said. Hadeed soon secured international buyers and the first shipment was exported in January 2010.
“When these companies came on board, they were paying to have their waste oil disposed of. However, we let them know that Ecoimpact could do that for free, so it was a win-win situation for them,” he said. Hadeed thinks that as time passes, companies are slowly becoming more environmentally aware.
“In the beginning they didn’t care. If we missed a pickup, they’d just pour it down the drain. But I would like to believe now that companies have more respect and acknowledge their responsibility to do things in an environmentally sustainable way,” he said.
The company was later bought over by HADCO Group of Companies which enabled it to add more collection trucks and staff to its fleet.
The company is also ISCC certified – ISCC is a sustainability certification system covering the entire supply chain and all kinds of bio-based feedstocks and renewables.
The company also carries out an annual audit to ensure its materials are being disposed of sustainably.
Best of all, there’s no cost for collection – residents and local businesses can have their waste oil collected for free.
Thousands of gallons of waste oil per day
The company now collects so much waste oil, it’s hard to believe how the material was disposed of before this.
The company now exports a whopping 40,000 gallons of waste oil per month, which equals around 1,300 gallons of oil collected per day.
That’s approximately 90 metric tonnes of waste oil exported on a monthly basis – and that volume is increasing.
“Do I see it growing? Absolutely. There is a lot of waste oil out there that is not being collected,” he said.
General Manager of Ecoimpact, Nicholas De Freitas said residential and commercial areas are becoming more aware and are reaching out to have their waste oil disposed of sustainably.
“This is just the beginning for us, we’re hoping to bring out even more projects which can support the company’s mandate of sustainability,” he said.
Need for enforcement
Hadeed said however that there is still the need for enforcement and policymaking regarding waste oil disposal and recycling in general.
“I can’t remember any incident where someone was charged and made to dispose of their waste oil properly through our company. It’s a lot of talk but I don’t see the implementation. We need to wake up.”
“Businesses are generally driven mainly by profit, not environmental accountability, so it’s up to all of us to speak out, act and force our representatives and companies to be more responsible. The consumer is the most powerful agent of all,” he said.
Recently the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) revised its Water Pollution Rules, 2019 (WPR) and the Water Pollution (Fees) Regulation, 2019 which are now in effect.
Under the new Rules, the release of contaminants into groundwater, without the relevant permit, is punishable by law.
How it works
After the waste oil is collected it goes through several stages of purification to attain its clean final form. After being poured through a filter mesh, the oil is lead into a settling tank where it is left to naturally separate.
When the oil, water and solids have settled, the oil is then heated and led into a powerful centrifuge where water, sediment, fats and other impurities are extracted.
The oil is tested at each stage of filtration to ensure that the final product meets worldwide quality standards before it is handed over for the production of biofuels.
Throughout the process, the company ensures the most environmentally safe practices are utilized and all waste products are carefully treated and recycled where possible.
Even the plastic kegs that contain the Waste Vegetable Oil are recycled or reused sustainably.
In May 2011, Ecoimpact became a member of CarbonFund.org and purchased carbon offsets in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint globally.
What’s more, companies who donate their old cooking oil can show the company’s Seal of Action by hosting the company’s logo on their marketing material.
Through this, Ecoimpact hopes to create public awareness associated with this logo.
For more information on Ecoimpact visit http://EcoimpactTT.com/ or call 633-3609 for a list of their collection points.