Twenty sanitary vehicles filled biodiesel produced from recycled gutter oil at a Sinopec gas station in Shanghai on Tuesday, marking recycled waste fuel entering the fuel market in China.
The gas station in Fengxian District has two biodiesel oil tanks. The fuel is being sold at 5.72 yuan (0.86 US dollars) per liter compared with 6.02 yuan for standard diesel.
The oil company said another gas station in Pudong District is also prepared to begin selling the biodiesel.
Yang Jinsong, director of the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, said Sinopec's biodiesel sales mark the debut of biofuel made from grease trap oil and used cooking oil on China's fuel market.
He said the Shanghai municipal government would continue to encourage the market-oriented operation of biodiesel production and sales, and allow it to be used in the city's buses, sanitary vehicles, cargo trucks and cargo ships on Yangtze River.
Lou Diming, a professor at the School of Automotive Studies at Shanghai-based Tongji University, said biodiesel produces 10 percent less heavy metal substances and fine particulate matters, and 80 percent less nitric oxide emissions compared the exhaust from ordinary diesel.
Shanghai recovers 150 tonnes of gutter oil daily on average. Recycling the waste has provided incentives for waste oil recovery from restaurants, said Zheng Shusong, deputy secretary general of Shanghai Food Safety Work Federation.
He said in the past, restaurants paid to have the waste oil treated, while now they can sell the oil to the city's recycling firm.
The city government has designated Shanghai Zhongqi Environment Technology Co. Ltd to dispose of the city's leftover cooking oil and turn it into biodiesel. The recovering process is closely managed. Trucks with special license for carrying gutter oil are equipped with GPS devices.
Zhang Xuewang, chairman of the board, said by entering Sinopec's sales network, Shanghai Zhongqi Environment Technology can finally see the market value of the biodiesel production.
The company previously provided the fuel on small scale for 104 buses and 32 sanitary vehicles in Shanghai. By the end of September, the company had sold 5.86 million liters of biodiesel, however, the sales mainly depended on government subsidies.
Zhang said the cost of per-tonne to recover gutter oil is about 3,600 yuan (542 US dollars), while the processing cost is 2,000 yuan per tonne.
Due to the high costs, it is difficult to earn a profit without entering the fuel market, he said.
Individual users may still have doubts over the performance of the biodiesel in automobiles, Zheng said.
Meanwhile, it is important to maintain strong market supervision on the recovering and treatment as well as biodiesel generation process to ensure the oil's quality.
In many Chinese provinces such as Anhui, Yunnan and Hainan, the local government has promoted biodiesel use through government-sponsored demonstration projects, said Lin Jianmin, a senior engineer with Sinopec.