Project Green: Grease Lighting
We have just returned from an interesting recce to Uptown Oils in South London near the historic regions of Borough and Southwark, the world of Shakespeare, the foggy swirling Thames (although it has shimmered almost invitingly in the heat wave of the past few days) and the famous wholesale fruit and vegetable market. Uptown Oils are pioneers here in the UK, converting used cooking oil from restaurants and bars into carbon neutral, environmentally friendly biodiesel. They are situated beneath several old Victorian arches which support the railway leading into London Bridge Station, underneath each arch, as you traverse the unsurprisingly oily floor, are crammed heavy duty containers holding either used cooking oil for processing or the clean biodiesel awaiting collection.
The biodiesel was originally sold to London’s famous taxi fleet – during our visit several cheery taxi drivers in their black cabs stopped to fill up at the pump – and now, the biodiesel they generate is being used by business’s such as the international accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Their brand new offices on the riverfront, specifically tailored to fulfil numerous green credentials, contains two huge electrical generators designed to power the entire office on recycled biodiesel supplied by Uptown Oils. Jason Askey-Woods shows us around and introduces us to another surprising off shoot of recycling cooking oil, glycerin. ‘Here is a new idea,’ he smiles and shows us a little tub and bottle. Unusually, considering we are surrounded by chugging machinery and the people around us are entirely male in heavy work boots, this ‘new idea’ is perfumed hand-wash and cleansing cream. Glycerin essentially is as natural a soap as you can get soap to be. Most commercial soap that reaches the high street contains only a little glycerin and is instead filled with a mixture of detergents, phosphates, alkali and chlorine.
Uptown Oils are considering supplying these natural soaps and hand washes to the brewers, pubs, restaurants and cafes where the original oil product came from – a great way of turning full circle the production of their goods.
Feel free to visit their website for further information. http://www.uptownoil.co.uk
Produced for the Project Green Blog – http://projectgreen2011.wordpress.com/ written by Tim Lewis.