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Mestilla invests 6M EUR in used cooking oil processing project

03 Jun 2020

Mestilla, a biodiesel manufacturer operating in the Klaipeda Free Economic Zone, plans to start making biofuel out of used cooking oil (UCO) collected in Lithuania, starting by the end of 2021. This is the company’s way to contribute towards a cleaner environment, circular economy, and the reduction of imported fossil fuel dependency. Around 6 million EUR will be invested in the project.

In May, Mestilla started working towards accrediting an environmental impact evaluation with the goal of completing an expansion project involving used cooking oil processing and biodiesel production in their plant found in the territory of the Klaipeda FEZ, at Kretainio st. 5. The construction of new premises is expected to start in the beginning of 2021, with the production starting in the last quarter of the same year.

According to Arunas Zubas, CEO of Mestilla, the company which has been using rapeseed oil in its biofuel production since 2007, is planning to use a new material — used cooking oil that can be a problem for restaurants and sewage treatment plants.

“Used vegetable oil is a left over after frying or processing food in other ways,” said A. Zubas. “This waste cannot be spilled down the drain because oil is difficult to treat at waste management plants. The European Commission, as well as the Republic of Lithuania, strongly encourages the repurposing of this waste, the production of modern biofuel, and the circular economy, so processing this used oil to biodiesel, which will later be mixed with mineral fuel, will allow us to contribute to a cleaner and safer environment and reducing Lithuania’s dependency on fossil fuel.”

In 2019, the European Commission (EC) put forth a new Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), which aspires to increase biofuel usage to 14% in transportation by 2030. Until now, European countries aspired to the goal of a 10% share by 2020. The EC aims for 7% of first-generation biofuels in the total portfolio and the remaining 7% of “advanced” biofuel from used cooking oil and other waste, second-generation biofuel and electricity from renewable sources. The EC calculates that first-generation biofuel reduces CO2 emissions by 60%, while used cooking oil biofuel reduces emissions by 90%. Also, according to the European Commission, all biofuel strengthens local and rural region economies and reduce dependency on imported energy sources.

Mestilla expects to process up to 40,000 tonnes of used oil per year, which would account for 15% of the company’s total processing capacity, once the expansion project is complete. With the help of various partners, Mestilla plans to collect oil from Lithuanian food sector companies, which will allow them to not only save but make money as well.

Eimantas Kiudulas, CEO of the Klaipeda FEZ, comments that the new project from Mestilla entirely fits in with the European and worldwide trend of investment in circular economy projects. With the pre-existing circular economy experience at various companies and the specialization of the Klaipeda University, the city can become the leader of bioeconomy sector in the Baltics.

“The European Union countries emphasize the necessity of recycling waste as many times as possible instead of discarding it,” said E. Kiudulas. “Most of the plastics companies at the Klaipeda FEZ contribute to this effort in a major way, the oil project by Mestilla will bring even more circular economy knowledge and practical experience.”

Mestilla oil refining process will take place in closed containers, pipes, and reactors, without interaction with environmental air. The project will be developed in the current Mestilla premises, containers for raw materials and end-products will need to be built. Mestilla expects to invest 6-7 million EUR into the project, creating six new job vacancies. Similar used vegetable oil recycling refineries are being operated by companies like Green Energy Biofuels (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), EcoMotion (Losning, Denmark; Montmelo, Spain; Lunen, Germany) and Argent Energy (Motherwell, the UK).

“We are taking the impact of our activity and the well-being of the Klaipeda region very seriously,” said A. Zubas. “Ignoring running costs, we have invested 0.5 million EUR in odor reduction technologies and solutions. Today, the odor concentration in the closest residential district to our factory is at least five times smaller than the new standard, which will come into effect in 2024.”

According to odor measurements and spread modeling in unfavorable meteorological conditions, which were performed in 2018, the biggest odor concentration at the edge of the company’s territory is 5.2 OUE/m3 and 0.6 – 1 OUE/m3 by the nearest residential districts. Currently, the odor concentration threshold in residential neighborhoods is 8 OUE/m3, which will be reduced to 5 OUE/m3 in 2024.

In May, Mestilla completed another odor neutralization project, where Airborne 10, a material made to neutralize residual odors, is injected into the air stream post-production. 20,000 EUR were invested in the project, minus operating costs. This project expanded the odor neutralization process at Mestilla to three stages: neutralization via water and alkaline solution, ozonation of the air stream, and Airborne 10 injection.

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