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Europe’s surging demand for UCO raises supply concerns, report finds

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New research has questioned the environmental impact the use of used cooking oil (UCO) in the UK and European markets is having.
The EU promotes used cooking oil under its green fuels law which is pushing up demand for the 'waste' product.
Although Europe can increase the amount of UCO that can be sourced locally, this is limited by both the capacity of local authorities to collect it and how much UCO industries can produce.
This means it is increasingly reliant on sometimes dubious imports.
According to the study carried out by CE Delft on behalf of Transport & Environment, the demand for UCO could double in 2030.
China supplies over a third, or 34%, of Europe’s UCO imports while almost a fifth, 19%, comes from major palm oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia combined.
Within a decade, the volume Europe needs could double to 6 million tonnes as EU countries strive to meet targets for renewable fuels in transport, the study found.
This in turn could trigger palm oil being used to replace cooking oil in exporting countries.
As UCO is counted double towards national climate targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, it is often traded at a higher price.
This increases the risk that virgin oils could be fraudulently mixed with imported UCO to dilute supplies.
The report raises the question of what people in these countries are replacing the UCO with, when it is exported.