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HomeUncategorizedEurope burns more than 17,000 tons of cooking oil in vehicles per...

Europe burns more than 17,000 tons of cooking oil in vehicles per day

Published: 23 Jun 2022 12:54 GMT

More than 17,000 tons of sunflower and rapeseed oil are poured into vehicle fuel tanks every day in Europe, equivalent to almost 19 million bottles, according to a study published by the environmental organization Transport & Environment.

The study criticizes the use of edible vegetable oils as fuel for cars and trucks in the midst of a food crisis aggravated by the conflict in Ukraine, which is responsible for 40% of the world’s sunflower oil exports and the largest supplier of rapeseed oil to Europe.

Maik Marahrens, activist of this organization, denounces that “supermarkets have had to ration vegetable oils”, while “prices are soaring” up to 2.5 times more than before 2021. “At the same time, we are burning thousands of tons of sunflower and rapeseed oil in our cars every day. In times of scarcity, we need to prioritize food over fuel,” he warns.

According to the report, 9% of sunflower oil and 58% of rapeseed oil used in Europe and the UK between 2015 and 2019 was burned in cars and trucks, equivalent to 18.7 million bottles of oil per day. In addition, large volumes of soybean oil (50 %) and palm oil (32 %) consumed are used to fuel road transport, accounting for a further 14 million bottles per day.

Rising prices and food insecurity

According to the report, the use of edible oils as biofuels has contributed to the fact that these food products have registered the highest price increases in the world.

The price of vegetable oils began to rise in 2021, before the conflict in Ukraine, forcing countries such as India, which is the world’s second largest consumer, to reduce import taxes, impose limits and suspend futures trading in edible oils and oilseeds.

In addition, food price inflation is having a serious impact on those forced to survive on low incomes in the richer regions of Europe.

According to a recent UN report, record high food and energy prices will push approximately 180 million people in 41 of 53 countries with available data into a food crisis or worse by 2022, with another 19 million facing chronic malnutrition by 2023.

Environmental impacts

On the other hand, the trend of using vegetable-based cooking oils for other purposes can have negative impacts on the environment, experts warn, as farmers are forced to increase the area of arable land to meet market demands.

Eighteen percent of the world’s vegetable oils, almost all of which are fit for human consumption, are used to replace diesel fuel, which is supposed to reduce greenhouse gases, reports The Guardian. However, experts argue that their lifecycle emissions can be even worse than fossil fuels.

In addition, there are disadvantages for vehicles, including difficulty in starting due to ignition temperature variation, problems in the engine reaching its maximum power, reduced engine durability due to fuel residues from vegetable oil, reduced lubrication capacity or voiding of the car’s warranty.

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