Recycling used cooking oil in Kuching

The chant of the paper lama lorry going around our neighbourhoods to collect old newspapers is a familiar childhood memory for most Malaysians. Many also remember those nostalgic days when we’d help our parents or grandparents squash used drink cans for recycling.

While it’s commendable that a lot of Malaysians practice recycling, it’s an effort that can definitely be improved on. We still rely heavily on plastics, and are not big on separating our trash. More concerning though is our habit of dumping cooking oil into drains or down the sink.

Though recycling used cooking oil is not something that’s practiced in most households, an organisation in Kuching is trying to make a change.

Collecting used cooking oil to produce sustainable fuel

On 27th August, Twitter user @trshawbly shared a screenshot of a truck that goes around Kuching collecting used cooking oil to produce sustainable biodiesel.

She prompted Kuchingites to not throw away their used cooking oil as doing so will harm the environment, but to sell it to the organisation instead. Though the organisation’s name cannot be seen, there is a number on the banner for people to contact.

used cooking oil kuching
Image credit: @trshawbly

This initiative may not be as prevalent as recycling old newspapers, but there are a few existing organisations that have been advocating the habit of recycling used cooking oil among Malaysian households and eateries.

Sekitar Bumi Hijau, a licensed used cooking oil collector and reseller based in Miri, is a strong campaigner for the proper disposal of used cooking oil.

used cooking oil kuching
Image credit: fat hopes energy

The improper cooking oil disposal methods that most Malaysians have been practicing, such as pouring their used cooking oil into drains or down the kitchen sink, will clog sewage pipes or risk flowing out into the river and sea, which can severely affect marine life in the long run.

cooking with a wok
Image credit: myMuzick/Pixabay 

While the issue of some unscrupulous resellers repurposing used cooking oil into ‘gutter oil’ – used oil that is converted back to normal cooking oil as a cheaper alternative – is a valid one, Sekitar Bumi Hijau recommends us to check up on their license. Legal resellers will be backed by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

Those who’re interested in learning how used cooking oil can be transformed into new energy sources in Malaysia can visit the nonprofit Association of Used Cooking Oil Development Malaysia (AUCO)s website. After oil is collected, it is treated and processed into biodiesel in specialised facilities in our country.

Netizens praise sustainable initiative

In the replies to the tweet, most netizens were interested to find out if the used cooking oil collection service is available in their respective states.

There were also a couple of commenters who praised the initiative and are hopeful for future sustainable programmes to be implemented. User @_bryanyap chimed in saying that it’s great how companies are searching for opportunities to repurpose trash instead of just dumping it.

bryan yap tweet
Image adapted from: @_bryanyap

Meanwhile, netizen @Yanna_Deyya hoped that there will be a similar initiative in Kelantan as she has around 3 to 4 bottles of used cooking oil weighing 5kg each and she doesn’t like the idea of disposing it in the sink or at inappropriate places.

yanna deyya tweet
Image credit: @Yanna_Deyya

Improper disposal of used cooking oil harms the environment

Modern conveniences have improved our quality of life by leaps and bounds. But while human beings are enjoying and profiting from these luxuries, they often taking a severe toll on the environment.

It’s reassuring to see sustainable initiatives try to minimise our impact on the environment. But in order for wider change to take place, responsible and considerate behaviour has to start with every individual. No matter how small you think your gesture may be, it’s enough to make an impact if it’s practiced nationwide.

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Cover image adapted from: fat hopes energy and @trshawbly

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