In Brazil, Cargill recycles 1.2 million liters of cooking oil

When Brazilians are done using Cargill’s Liza brand cooking oil, they can return it to the store. We then make sure it’s turned into biodiesel, instead of ending up in the country’s rivers. 

By Tom Vandyck February 03, 2016

Every twenty days, São Paulo, the largest city in Latin America, needs 30 billion liters of drinking water to keep its twelve million inhabitants going. That number is important, because it’s how much water Cargill has kept from getting polluted since 2010 with its recycling program for Liza brand cooking oil.

Liza is one of Cargill’s hallmark consumer brands in Brazil, with a full portfolio of mayonnaise, salad dressings and cooking oils. That oil has to go somewhere after it’s used, and that’s why Cargill started to collect and recycle it. In just over 5 years, 1.2 million liters have come back.

inpage-carrefour-oilsIn several supermarket chains throughout Brazil, Cargill and its partner companies have set up hundreds of collection points where consumers can drop off their spent oil, which is then processed and sold to biodiesel companies.“That’s a big deal,” said Cargill sustainability coordinator Marcio Barela. “If you pour your oil down the drain, it can clog up sewer pipes, which is a nuisance. But the bigger problem is that, in Brazil, most residential sewage goes untreated and ends up in the rivers. It’s estimated that 1 liter of oil can pollute 25,000 liters of water. That’s how you get to that number of 30 billion liters.”

Huge potential

In several supermarket chains throughout Brazil, Cargill and its partner companies have set up hundreds of collection points where consumers can drop off their spent oil, which is then processed and sold to biodiesel companies. Brazil has a very well-developed biodiesel economy, and millions of flex fuel vehicles on the road.

“Today most of the biodiesel produced in Brazil is made from virgin soybean oil,” said Barela. “What we’re adding with the cooking oil program is still a small portion, but is has a huge potential for growth. We’re turning a discarded residue that once would have contaminated the environment into a cleaner and renewable fuel.”

All that oil, of course, represents an economic value. A liter of returned Liza oil is worth 0.60 to 1.00 Brazilian reals (15-25 U.S dollar cents). And the collection and processing of those hundreds of thousands of liters creates jobs that help families thrive and communities grow.

Doing the right thing

So far, an estimated 600,000 to 1 million Brazilians have returned their 1 and 2 liter bottles of Liza oil to the store, the only part individual consumers are asked to play in the program. “The cool thing about that is that we also get the plastic bottles back, because we don’t want those to pollute the environment either,” said Barela. “Our responsibility doesn’t end at the supermarket door. We want to do the right thing throughout the whole supply chain – and when we get the oil back.”