Hong Kong restaurants grumble at oil disposal requirement

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 July, 2015, 5:43am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 July, 2015, 5:43am

Restaurant owners fear a new licensing system to take effect towards the end of the year will make storage and recycling of waste cooking oil even more difficult than it already is.

Under the system, which is designed to ensure unwanted oil does not enter the city's food supply, restaurant operators must hand over their waste oil to licensed collectors and disposers. The licensing system is to ensure the oil can be traced, as its use is restricted to industrial applications such as biodiesel.

But Ho Kwong-shing, who runs five Chinese restaurants in housing estates, said it was easier to pour used oil into grease traps.

His restaurants, which use mostly soybean and peanut oil from the mainland, used to sell unwanted oil to collectors, but the trade stopped two years ago. "The collectors didn't come anymore … I believe it was because of little profit," Ho said.

The collectors picked up a bucket of oil for around HK$300 every 10 days, Ho said, but he said there was inadequate space in the kitchen to store the bucket, which holds around 160 catties of oil and stands at the height of an adult's waist.

Now, those who clean the grease traps come once a month to clean the trap and take the waste away.

Both the recyclers and those who clean grease traps will be required to get licences under the new law.

Tom Ko, owner of Gold Success Environmental Company, said there were just two or three companies in town specialising in collecting and recycling liquid cooking oil not from grease traps.

"Most collectors target grease trap waste only … if we collect used oil we have to pay our clients," said Ko, whose company cleans grease traps.

The government announced on Tuesday a three-month consultation on the regulation of oil and recycling of waste cooking oil. Under the proposal all oil, locally manufactured and imported, must carry an official certificate.

Aris Hui, business director of cooking oil importer Healfront, said costs would definitely go up. While certification of products accounts for 2 to 3 per cent of his costs, Hui cannot tell how much prices will rise.

"It is impossible not to transfer costs to customers. Suppliers, customers and our company will each share one third of the cost," Hui said.