Have you ever thought about where cooking oil goes after it’s used? In Thailand, about 150 million liters of cooking oil is used annually.

Used oil is a form of organic waste generated from cooking in the food industry, at restaurants and in households. Improper disposal of cooking oil and grease can lead to damage to facilities, appliances or unnecessary generation of solid waste. At Tyson Foods, we continually seek opportunities to eliminate or minimize food waste, such as cooking oil waste, in our direct operations. At our Tyson Thailand manufacturing plants, we have been working diligently to recycle our used cooking oil for many years — after the used oil is accumulated in a secure collection container, it is removed by a third-party recycler and further processed into biofuels that, in turn, can be used as a renewable energy source.

As part of the global food system, we strongly believe we have a critical role to play in supporting the growth of our communities, and that includes our rural communities in Thailand. In conjunction with April’s Earth Month recognition this year, we extended our knowledge of recycling used cooking oil and started the “Used Cooking Oil Exchange for New Cooking Oil” community project. The opening event for this project was successfully launched in the Bangsaothong community, Samutprakarn, and the Thung Khwang community, Chonburi. During the opening ceremonies, our team members shared with these communities the importance of waste management and recycling and how the practice of proper disposal of cooking oil can be beneficial.

A simple solution that could help reduce waste when cooking is to recycle used cooking oil and treat it as a valuable commodity that can be used to produce a form of renewable energy — biofuel. Recycling used oil helps to divert the disposal of waste oil from landfills, leading to other potential community benefits such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The “Used Cooking Oil Exchange for New Cooking Oil” community project is a collaboration between Tyson Thailand team members and our strategic partner Thanachok Group Co. Ltd, an integrated vegetable oil business provider. To promote participation in the used cooking oil recycling project, every 3 kilograms (6.61 lbs) of used cooking oil is exchangeable for 1 kilogram (2.20 lbs) of new cooking oil, or 20 Thai Baht cash is given away for every kilogram of used cooking oil collected.

Communities are encouraged to bring their household used cooking oil to the community center, where it will then be collected by Thanachok Group Co. Ltd and converted into biodiesel in their plant. The collection dates for this program will run from April to September. During the opening ceremonies, we gave away chicken nuggets to the communities and reminded them to recycle the cooking oil after frying them. The event was a success and we plan to continue this project every year moving forward!

Sustainability Manager, Tyson Foods APAC