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From fat to fuel: reducing the Red Cross' carbon footprint

5 March 2009

Biodiesel© Info The British Red Cross in Mid Scotland and Argyll has come up with a dynamic way to reduce its carbon emissions – by running some of its vehicles using biodiesel made from used vegetable oil.

This innovative scheme, which is being piloted in the Falkirk area, is one of the ways the Red Cross is working to reduce its carbon emissions.

Emergency response programme manager Donald Park explains the process of making the biodiesel: “We collect the waste vegetable oil from local hotels and restaurants. This goes into a biodiesel-making pod that is small enough to store in a shed behind our office.

“We heat the oil overnight and then add a mix of methane and potassium hydroxide to the oil. This process breaks down the oil into the biodiesel, which we are currently using to run two of our vehicles.”

Environmental and financial sense

As well as being carbon neutral, the biodiesel has the added green credentials of producing glycerines that can be used as an accelerator for compost making. There are no harmful by-products of this process.

“One of our volunteers is already using it in her gardens,” Donald added.

Operations director Helen Bath is pleased with the results and hopeful that their home-made biodiesel will soon be running more of her Area’s vehicles.

“We also estimated that it will bring savings of over £18,000 over a five-year period so it makes good financial as well as environmental sense.”

Read about the humanitarian cost of climate change

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