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Restaurant machine to solve 'gutter oil'

By Liu Sha (Global Times)

08:18, June 14, 2012

Some 200 Beijing restaurants have become the first of thousands to be hooked up to oil separating machines that will ensure used oil is properly disposed of and cannot return to the food chain.

The machines are being installed in restaurant kitchens to make sure used cooking oil is n0t dumped into the sewer system. Last year, consumers were outraged to learn that recycled cooking oil or "gutter oil" was being collected from sewers and sold in supermarkets or reused by restaurants.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment is cooperating with environmental technology companies on a pilot project that some day may be extended to include all of the city's 62,000 registered restaurants, Deng Jun, deputy director of the commission's solid waste department, told the Global Times.

"Officials want to install the machines in all restaurants to ensure the waste oil won't be collected illegally," said Deng.

The new machines will automatically send the used oil to a large container which only the machine installers will have access. The companies that develop the machines intend to sell the raw used oil to biodiesel companies that will produce engine fuel.

"The process will effectively solve the gutter oil problem if all restaurants are connected to the collection system," said Xie Hongxiang, CEO of Beijing-based Zhongtianshiyuan, one of the companies that has been contracted by the city to install the oil separators.

Xie said installing the machines in all of Beijing's restaurants could cost 30 million yuan ($4.7 million). His company intends to install the machines in restaurants free of charge.

Currently, only 10 percent of the restaurants have an oil-water separator.

The new version of the machine being installed is also connected to a district control center where monitors will tell operators when the collection vat is full and provide other data. The machine will also be under video surveillance.

"The new equipment works much better than current separators in restaurants," said Xie. "Our system ensures the used oil is recycled by qualified companies."

Two companies have successfully bid on contracts for installing oil separators in more than 7,000 restaurants in downtown Beijing, which have been selected for an expanded pilot project.

The project got underway last week in Beijing's Chaoyang and Haidian districts.

Two companies in Shanghai have also installed the machines in 30 restaurants in a downtown shopping mall, according to Zhang Jian, CEO of Onedear Environment and Technology Corp.

The Shanghai and Bejing companies said they would install the machine without charge to restaurants.

The State Council yesterday laid out measures to improve food safety, including tighter supervision, a rigid food recall and disposal system for defective products and harsh punishment.

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