Posted August 5th 2013 at 8:34 am by
in Waste Pickers Movement in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Increasing Grassroots Waste Vegetable Oil Collection

The Green Grease Public Awareness Campaign in São Paulo, Brazil

The average home in São Paulo produces around four liters of waste vegetable oil (WVO) per month, and each liter has the potential to pollute thousands of liters of water. In 2010, Brazil launched a new solid waste law, requiring all municipalities, companies, and citizens to recycle and dispose waste in controlled sanitary landfills. Unfortunately, this law doesn’t include WVO. Even though there are other laws to preserve the water, 85% of the WVO generated in Brazil is thrown down the sink.

Most WVO collection initiatives target large producers of oil, such as restaurants, cafeterias and shopping centers; but there is no door-to-door collection despite the high volume of oil produced at the household level. The Green Grease Project aims to change that by launching a public awareness campaign with Rede CataSampa, the union of catadores (wastepickers) in São Paulo, Brazil.

Increasing Waste Vegetable Oil Collection at the Grassroots Level

Download the simple Green Grease Filtration How-to Manual by clicking on the image above.

Launched as a partnership between the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab), Biodiesel@MIT, and Rede CataSampa in 2010, the Green Grease Project aims to increase the value of waste vegetable oil collected by the catadores. Students from the University of São Paulo (USP) joined the team in 2011 and helped develop a small-scale filtration system. In June 2012, representatives from three cooperatives visited MIT for a week-long workshop that focused on media strategies, the use of technology, and business planning to enhance the WVO collection. When a student team traveled to São Paulo the following month, the cooperatives disagreed on how to commercialize their oil, despite the benefits of collective commercialization. However, a new opportunity may be able to unite them.

Biotechnos, a small company from the state of Rio Grande do Sul, has developed a biodiesel plant that they aim to install throughout the twelve host cities of the World Cup. This year, Biotechnos started working with CoopReciclavel in Guarulhos in order to sell biodiesel to the international airport, located in the same city. In order to operate at the maximum capacity of the biodiesel processor and satisfy the demand from the airport, CoopReciclavel must collect 40,000 liters per month, almost ten times what they collect now.

In order to reach their goal, CoopReciclavel must not only expand collection within the city of Guarulhos, but in the cities where other cooperatives in the Rede CataSampa network are located. If CoopReciclavel can pay a higher a price for the oil, this would mean high profits for all the cooperatives. With this in mind, Green Grease’s main objective is to increase the volume of WVO collected through a public awareness campaign, targeting the household level, where cooperatives have an advantage over larger collection companies. Working with Laura Fostinone from São Paulo, the Green Grease Team is currently raising funds to implement a public awareness campaign in Guarulhos, followed by campaigns in the seven cities where Rede CataSampa cooperatives are already collecting WVO. For more information, please contact

 Post by Angela Hojnacki.

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