Municipalities in Southern Italy Swap Used Cooking Oil for EVOO

Sorrento’s initiative is meant to prevent pollution from used cooking oil being dumped down drains and ending up in the sea. Other cities are adopting similar measures.
Positano near Sorrento, Italy
Oct. 6, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Olive grow­ers and pro­duc­ers in the south­ern Italian region of Campania have teamed up with local author­i­ties to pro­mote extra vir­gin olive oil and fos­ter an envi­ron­men­tally-friendly approach to used cook­ing oil dis­posal.

In a series of events announced by the munic­i­pal­ity of Sorrento with the local waste man­age­ment com­pany, res­i­dents are invited to bring their used cook­ing oil to spe­cial areas for proper dis­posal. The more they bring, the more extra vir­gin olive oil the munic­i­pal­ity will reward them in exchange.

When used veg­etable oil ends up in our seas, its pol­lu­tion kills marine veg­e­ta­tion.- Francesco Mancini, pres­i­dent, CONOE

The Sorrento penin­sula, which faces the Bay of Naples and Capri island, is the home of some of the region’s most cel­e­brated extra vir­gin olive oils. It is also an incred­i­bly scenic part of the south­west­ern Italian coast­line, attract­ing tourists from all over the world.

Local author­i­ties explained that proper cook­ing oil dis­posal helps main­tain the region’s beauty and bio­di­ver­sity.

See Also:Researchers Develop Compostable Plastic Packaging From Olive Waste

Those res­i­dents that will give over 10 liters of exhausted cook­ing oil will receive a bot­tle of extra vir­gin olive oil,” Luigi Di Prisco, head of the munic­i­pal Council, told the local news­pa­per Il Mattino.

He added that all par­tic­i­pants would also receive a con­tainer to store used cook­ing oil at home before dis­pos­ing of it.

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This is one more way to pro­mote respect for the envi­ron­ment, by reward­ing vir­tu­ous behav­ior,” Di Prisco said.

The Amalfi munic­i­pal­ity announced a sim­i­lar ini­tia­tive. Located on the south­ern shores of the Sorrento penin­sula, it is the heart of the Amalfi coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We are work­ing to pre­serve our land­scape, artis­tic and cul­tural her­itage and to fos­ter sus­tain­abil­ity which is a key fac­tor of pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion,” said coun­cil­woman Ilara Cuomo. All cit­i­zens must enact vir­tu­ous reuse, waste reduc­tion and recy­cle… trig­ger­ing a cir­cu­lar econ­omy that coun­ter­acts the sin­gle-use throw­away cul­ture.”

While not always linked to the dis­tri­b­u­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil, cam­paigns focused on recy­cling exhausted cook­ing oils have been on the rise through­out Italy.

The ran­dom dis­per­sion of used veg­etable oils is con­sid­ered a sig­nif­i­cant envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tant and was the focus of a recent national con­fer­ence.

When used veg­etable oil ends up in our seas, its pol­lu­tion kills marine veg­e­ta­tion,” said Francesco Mancini, pres­i­dent of the national con­sor­tium for the recy­cling of veg­etable and ani­mal oils (CONOE). This hap­pens because it cre­ates a sort of fil­ter on the water sur­face which pre­vents solar rays from reach­ing the sea floor.”

CONOE data show that its recy­cling fig­ures rose from 15,000 tons in 2002 to 76,000 in 2018. Italy pro­duces about 260,000 tons of cook­ing oil each year.

A grow­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies in the pro­duc­tion chain are join­ing the con­sor­tium, which rep­re­sents more than 300,000 mem­bers who use cook­ing oil, such as restau­rants.

Over time, Italians have been find­ing new and cre­ative ways to uti­lize used cook­ing oil. One of these is as fuels for vaporet­tos, tra­di­tional water buses that carry around tourists and res­i­dents in Venice. Since the trial period in 2018, vaporet­tos increas­ingly run on cook­ing oil-derived bio­fu­els.

Treated cook­ing oil is also being incor­po­rated into cos­met­ics, indus­trial soaps, inks, tan­ning greases and car waxes. CONOE esti­mates that almost 90 per­cent of recy­cled cook­ing oil is used as fuel in the coun­try.



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