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Businesses eye biofuels in decarbonization drive

TOKYO >> Efforts to reuse cooking oil and food waste as biofuel are spreading among restaurant chains and food manufacturers. In addition to being an effective way to recycle kitchen waste, the work is gaining attention as a means of decarbonizing delivery and production processes.

Nagoya-based Sagami Holdings Corp. is refining oil from deep-fat fryers into biodiesel for transport trucks. The food service company implemented the process at 10 outlets in Kyoto and Osaka, in collaboration with a Kyoto-based biofuel manufacturer and distributor, and local transportation operators.

Diesel fuel is mixed with 5% biofuel, which can be used directly in standard trucks. Plans call for gradually increasing the percentage while monitoring the effects on engines and mileage.

Sagami Holdings operates approximately 250 outlets nationwide and collects 350 tons of oil waste annually. The company estimates that if biofuels were introduced throughout its entire delivery network, it will be able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3.8 tons monthly.

“If the use of biofuels becomes widespread, the number of refueling points will increase, leading to more significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions,” said Katsuma Kurebayashi, a deputy manager of Sagami Management Support Co., a subsidiary of Sagami Holdings.

This year Pasco Shikishima Corp., also based in Nagoya, plans to reuse waste from its bread manufacturing process. The company produces about 30,000 tons of food waste per year. Bread crust, for instance, will be used to produce bio-coke, a biomass fuel developed by Kindai University. The company will explore the feasibility of using the next-generation green fuel to replace the gas it uses to power boilers.

Convenience store chain Family­Mart Co. Ltd. is pursuing a plan to collect used cooking oil from six outlets in Saga for fuel for the city’s buses and garbage trucks. “We’re considering introducing the system for our delivery vehicles in the future,” said a company official.

The Nisshin Oillio Group in Tokyo also reuses cooking oil from the company’s production process as fuel for its in-house fire trucks.

Last year Tokyo Clear Center, a waste disposal service, began using biofuel in its waste collection vehicles. The company recycles cooking oil used in the process of converting food waste into animal feed.

Euglena Co., which supplies biofuel to Nisshin Oillio Group and Tokyo Clear Center, said, “We are receiving more and more inquiries every month.”

Many manufacturers and transportation companies are looking at biofuels for use with conventional internal combustion engines.

Last month Central Japan Railway Co. refueled its new HC85 series trains with biofuel and conducted test runs.

“It allows us to confirm performance without making major changes to the engine,” said JR Tokai President Shin Kaneko, highlighting the advantages of biofuel over batteries and hydrogen.

According to estimates by Yano Research Institute Ltd., the domestic market for biomass energy, including biofuels, will more than double over the next 15 years, from nearly $5 billion in fiscal 2020 to about $12.8 billion in fiscal 2035.

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