By Carmencita A. Carillo, Correspondent

Japan launches biodiesel-from-cooking oil project in Davao City

Posted on November 21, 2015

DAVAO CITY -- The Japanese government is hoping its newly-launched biodiesel project with used cooking oil as its feedstock in Davao City will serve as a model for similar future undertakings in other cities.

Davao City Assistant City Administrator Tristan Dwight P. Domingo (left) pours used oil in a container, while Shigeto Mizumoto of MyClimate Japan (center) and Takeshi Kitahama of Biomass Japan look on, at the launch of the biodiesel-from-cooking-oil project being undertaken by the Japanese and Davao City governments. PHOTO BY CARMENCITA A. CARILLO
Tomoko Dodo, director of Japan’s Consular Office in the city, said Davao is the first city where the technology is being used outside of Japan.

The project aims to collect used cooking oil from households and commercial establishments, which will become the primary ingredient in the production of biodiesel.

“We have done it in Japan and we are confident that this can also be done in Davao City. And if it is good then we want to expand to the other areas,” Ms. Dodo said in a press conference at the City Hall Thursday, a day before the launching ceremony.

Representatives from other proponents of the project, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Biomass Japan, are currently here to review the initial study conducted by Davao City government with MyClimate Japan on the project’s feasibility and sustainability.

“From this year until March 2016, the city will conduct a viability study to see if there is enough used cooking oil (that can be collected).Then if it is viable, then we will go to the next stage and build a plant where all the used cooking oil will be converted into biodiesel fuel,” Ms. Dodo said.

Thirteen of the 180 barangays in the city will initially join the project, which was launched yesterday in Barangay Matina Crossing. The barangay has already impressed project proponents with their proposal on how to efficiently collect used cooking oil from households.

The city government will later determine the most appropriate collection system after the experimental stage.

“For now, we are urging Dabawenyos (locals) to voluntarily donate their used oil so we can gauge how much we can collect later on,” said Assistant City Administrator Tristan Dwight P. Domingo.

Mr. Domingo clarified that there will be no incentive for those who will provide the used cooking oil, but stressed that this alternative means of disposal is good for the environment.

He noted that used cooking oil has been classified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as toxic and hazardous, and can pose health hazards when reused for cooking.

“There are lots of establishments illegally disposing used cooking oil by selling them to vendors who use it for cooking,” Mr. Domingo said.

Throwing the used cooking oil in the drainage is also prohibited even for households, he added.

Ms. Dodo said Japan faced the same problem of the dumping of used cooking oil into canals and drainages.

She said this practice is dangerous since it would take 2.5 million milliliters (ml) of water to completely wash out 500 ml of used cooking oil.

In the initial stage of the project, the collected used cooking oil will be brought to the City Environment and Natural Resources’ (CENRO) Motorpool compound.

If successful, the initial output of the biodiesel project will be used for the city government’s vehicles, including CENRO’s garbage collection trucks.

Ms. Dodo said Davao City will later have to provide the land where the government of Japan will build the P4-million plant, where the used cooking oil will be converted into biodiesel.

“What we need is enough used cooking oil and the cooperation of the city down to the barangays. I have strong belief that the Dabawenyos have willingness to do this,” she said.

Shigeto Mizumoto, analyst for MyClimate Japan, said their initial interviews with kwek-kwek (deep-fried egg) vendors show that each vendor can collect up to two liters of used cooking oil per day.

Most of them revealed that they bring the used cooking oil home and throw it in the toilet, which then goes to the drainage system and contributes to clogging that can then lead to flooding.

Engineer Eliza P. Madrazo, CENRO chief, said the biodiesel fuel machine is “capable of converting used cooking oil by up to 90% so 1,000 liters of used (cooking) oil would yield 900 liters of biodiesel fuel.

The byproduct, Ms. Madrazo added, is a watery substance that can be easily disposed of in the drainage since no toxic or hazardous chemicals are used in the conversion process.

“There is trash in the world. Anything can be used, reused and recycled so if people will only give their used cooking oil for free to the government then we can do this,” said Takeshi Kitahama of Biodiesel Japan.