city-offers-soap-for-used-cooking-oilValencian city Vila-real wants its residents to swap their used vegetable oil for soap made from recycled oil at a flea market in the town square at the end of the month.

Designed to raise awareness of the importance of recycling the oil – rather than pouring it down the sink – the local government initiative includes giving householders funnels to help them save their oil in plastic bottles until taking them to one of the city’s 20 collection points.

The municipality says about 2,000 liters of oil has been collected since a promotion campaign started two months ago and has made possible both production of the soap cakes and 1,900 liters of biodiesel.

The city, with a population of more than 51,000 people, estimates it has also saved €4,800 ($6,000) in water treatment thanks to the reduced contamination and helped residents avoid blocked drains. It says cooking oil is its worst urban pollutant.

Many similar campaigns are taking place around Spain to promote edible oil recycling schemes.

In Barcelona, one incentive for householders who take their used oil to depots is a discount on their water bill. The graduated rebate reaches a maximum of 14 percent if they do so 15 or more times a year.

With the financial crisis biting hard in Spain, in some municipalities there have been thefts of used cooking oil and there is a problem with illegal collectors who charge restaurants to take their used oil but do not recycle it, instead dumping it and causing environmental harm.

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