An unexpected proposal to deal with rising prices at the pump. The leader of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts, Julien Bayou, has tabled an amendment to the purchasing power bill, debated in the National Assembly since Monday, July 18. The text of the ecologists aims to authorize the use of the“used edible oil” as fuel.
The deputies who signed this amendmentspotted by Le Parisien (article subscribers)believe that rolling in frying oil would both “relieve the wallet immediately” motorists and emit fewer greenhouse gases than a conventional diesel engine. Franceinfo explains this practice to you, for the time being prohibited in France, but carried for years by associations.
A fuel compatible with certain diesel engines
No question of pouring the contents of a fryer directly into a tank. To be used as fuel, these used cooking oils must be “decanted and filtered” upstream, specifies the amendment tabled by the ecologists.
According to this text, ten liters of waste oil can give eight liters of fuel. They can then be used in a mixture of up to 30% with a conventional fuel, explains on its website the Roule ma frite association, which specializes in the collection of used oils and their transformation into fuel. The amendment suggests that it may be possible to run entirely on used cooking oil “subject to certain adaptations” on the vehicle.
However, not all vehicles are suitable for running on used cooking oil, even partially. Only diesel engines of old design are compatible, and provided they have been equipped with a specific injection pump model to deliver the fuel to the combustion chamber, details the Roule ma frite association.
An officially prohibited practice, but local experiments
In France, rolling with edible oil is a practice “prohibited”, recalls the amendment. Only approved fuels listed in the customs code are authorized. Driving with used cooking oil therefore constitutes a customs offence, since it is not affected by the taxes that apply to recognized fuels. Otherwise, “diesel vehicles are insured to run on diesel onlywarns Roll my fry. So in the event of a serious accident, it may turn against the driver of the vehicle.”
In practice, however, some exemptions have been granted locally. For example, the agglomeration of Béthune-Bruay (Pas-de-Calais) has been experimenting since the fall with a fuel composed of 100% processed edible oils to run its garbage trucks, reports France Bleu. Previously, it had already used, since 2019, a fuel composed of 30% treated frying oil and 70% diesel.
On the island of Oléron (Charente-Maritime), the association Roule ma frite 17 collects and filters used oils from restaurants and canteens. These oils were used in particular to supply the small tourist train of the island for two years. “In 2010 and 2011, we had obtained derogations from the General Directorate for Energy and Climate and the General Directorate for Customs and Indirect Duties”tells franceinfo Grégory Gendre, founder of the association Roll my fries 17.
The supporters of the amendment therefore plead for a generalization of this practice, in a context where “Europe encourages the use of this type of biofuel”. Indeed, the RecOil project, supported by the European Commission, also aims to encourage the recovery and processing of used household oils.
A less polluting and more economical oil than diesel, according to environmentalists
It is not only for the love of fries that the deputy Julien Bayou proposed this amendment. Environmentalists are convinced of the benefits that recycling frying oil into fuel would bring, both to the climate and to the wallets of the French. “This fuel rejects up to 90% less greenhouse gases than a conventional diesel, emits much less fine particles”boast the authors of the text.
Another advantage according to the environmental group: the use of used oils prevents them from ending up in wastewater. Non-recycled oils risk clogging pipes and disrupting reprocessing in wastewater treatment plants, according to the amendment tabled.
Finally, used oil is also less expensive. And the environmental deputies see it as a means of acting on the purchasing power of the French. While fuel prices are close to 2 euros per liter, frying oil is less expensive. For example, as part of the experiment carried out on the Béthune-Bruay garbage trucks, the mayor of the city explains from France Bleu that this solution costs 1.30 euro per litre.
But a solution that poses risks to the engine and is not available in large quantities
Not everyone is convinced by the benefits of these oils. “This can cause more or less serious mechanical problems depending on the vehicle (clogging of the engine, injectors and catalysts)”, Judge Emilie Repusseau, Deputy Secretary General of the National Automobile Federation (FNA), with TF1.
More generally, the environmental association Canopée believes that the legalization of this recovered fuel will not change the overall problem of French purchasing power. “The recycling of used oils can be interesting locally in a circular economy context, but the volumes are so small that the gain in purchasing power will be marginal”notes Sylvain Angerandcoordinator of the association’s campaigns Canopy.
As for Roule ma frite, Grégory Gendre confirms that the reuse of cooking oils in France alone cannot cover fuel consumption. But, according to him, if used oil is used locally and “arrowed towards social mobility to allow isolated people to go shopping or to go to the doctor, then, the territory which produced waste will also have produced a resource which meets its needs.”
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