Aviation is an area where CO2 emissions are rising, and it is essential that lower carbon fuel is used. The SAF referred to in the article – made from used cooking oil (UCO) and other waste oils – is the only widely available type of alternative aviation fuel currently available, although technology is developing and the UK, through its SAF Mandate, is focusing on SAF made from solid wastes including residual black bin bag waste amongst other feedstocks.

Malaysia acts as a regional hub for shipping UCO out from a number of surrounding countries, which explains its higher volumes.

There is always a potential for fraud, due to the inherent value of UCO for fuel production, but it’s important to realise its value is never higher than that of virgin cooking oil. The fuel production industry is always trying to keep one step ahead of this risk, and in addition to having sight of the end to end supply chain via voluntary schemes, the DfT require third party verifiers to check the validity of the data supplied with the fuel consignments. Additionally, a European-wide database is being created to track consignments, and start-ups such as BioLedger now offer software that allows the purchaser to track the waste oil back to the restaurant it was collected from.

UCO should not be used in the country of origin as animal feed or for human consumption, and it is illegal to do so in most countries including China. Creating a market for UCO to be turned into fuel avoids the problems of it being disposed of into public sewers, where it causes blockages / fatbergs.

In respect of voluntary schemes – the term “voluntary” is used in reference to it being optional as to whether to use one of the approved schemes for demonstrating compliance with sustainability and land use criteria, vs. demonstrating compliance by other means. Compliance itself is not voluntary.