Ladysmith poised to start collecting used cooking oil to feed bio-diesel plant in Duncan

Town council has approved the spending of $2,900 to set up a residential vegetable oil collection kiosk in Ladysmith.

You can soon add used cooking oil to what can be recycled in Ladysmith.

Town council has approved the spending of $2,900 to set up a residential vegetable oil collection kiosk in Ladysmith. A location has not been confirmed yet, but when it opens, used cooking oil and grease will be collected at the local facility and then trucked to Bings Creek, where it will be processed into biodiesel.

“This is a new thing in the Cowichan Valley,” said Mayor Rob Hutchins.

“A fair amount goes to waste and we are going to start collecting it to make better use of that.”

Duncan-based Cowichan Energy Alternatives opened their biodiesel plant this past summer. Executive director Brian Roberts said the Cowichan Valley Regional District estimates that one kilogram of cooking oil, per person, is dumped every year, which is about one million litres.

“People just turn on the hot water and pour it down the drain,” said Roberts, who is also president of the Cowichan Bio-diesel Co-op.

“Municipal governments spend millions of dollars cleaning out the grease.”

The co-op started in 2005 and biodiesel was first sold in jugs at the Duncan Farmers’ Market. Now, there are 170 members who pay a $50 annual membership to purchase biodiesel for their vehicles. One buyer is an organic farm on Salt Spring Island.

Roberts said any diesel car can fill-up with biodiesel and there is no need to purchase a separate converter. The co-op charges $1.50 per litre, which is subsidized by volunteer labour. Without volunteers, a litre would cost $2. Biodiesel costs slightly more than regular diesel, which is about $1.10 to $1.20 per litre. The higher cost comes with piece of mind however.

“It doesn’t compare to fossil fuel,” Roberts said, explaining a vehicle using biodiesel runs better and that it’s better for the environment. “The exhaust smells like barbecue. It makes me hungry.”

Interestingly, the Province levies a 25-cent carbon tax on biodiesel, even though it is made of used vegetable oil. Without that tax, the biodiesel would sell for $1.25 per litre.

Currently, the co-op sells biodiesel in Duncan. Plans are in the works to open a new facility in or near Nanaimo.