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Japanese government seeks to build UCO biodiesel plant in the Philippines

The government of Japan has launched a project in the Philippines to produce biodiesel from used cooking oil.

The project, located in Davao City, aims to collect used cooking oil (UCO) from households and businesses for use in biodiesel production.

The Davao project marks the first time this particular technology is used outside of Japan, and the Japanese government hopes that is will serve as model for similar future undertakings in other cities.

Tomoko Dodo, director of Japan’s Consular Office in Davao City, says the technology has worked in Japan and she is confident it will also work for the Philippines.

‘From this year until March 2016, [Davao] city will conduct a viability study to see if there is enough UCO 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,’ she says.

The feasibility and sustainability study, conducted by the Davao City government with MyClimate Japan, is currently under reviews by the project’s other proponents, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Biomass Japan.

The project will initially be joined by 13 of the city’s 180 barangay districts, and the city government will later determine the most suitable collection system after the experimental stage.

According to assistant city administrator Tristan Dwight P. Domingo, there are no incentives for local to donate UCO, but it is advertised as an alternative, environmentally friendly disposal methods.

The Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources classifies UCO as toxic and hazardous, and it can be a health hazard if reused in cooking.

Domingo says that a black market exists for selling UCO to those who would reuse it, and the fact that the oil cannot legally be washed down the drain exacerbates the problem.

A similar problem was faced in Japan, but the construction of a biodiesel plant help ease the issue.

‘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,’ says Takeshi Kitahama of Biodiesel Japan.