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JBS’s Óleo Amigo program transforms nearly 7 million gallons of UCO into biodiesel

Photo: JBS

With the aim of promoting environmental education and encouraging the circular economy, the Óleo Amigo program created by Biopower, a JBS company that produces biodiesel, grew by almost 15 percent in 2023 with the collection of 4.5 million liters (nearly 1.2 million gallons) of used cooking oil (UCO).


In around eight years of the program’s existence, more than 26 million liters (6.87 million gallons) of oil have been collected, which have been transformed into biofuel.


With the initiative, more than 650 billion liters (171.7 billion gallons) of water were preserved, the equivalent of 260,000 Olympic swimming pools.


JBS said its new-business area, which includes Biopower, has the premise of promoting the circular economy.


“We believe that it is increasingly necessary to leave behind the traditional model of extracting, producing, purchasing and disposing of the product,” said Alexandre Pereira, commercial director at Biopower. “To give you an idea, just 1 liter of cooking oil is capable of contaminating 25,000 liters of water, according to Sabesp. That’s why we adopted a model of reintroducing waste as a raw material in production chains to obtain energy with high added value.”


The Óleo Amigo program currently has activities centralized in Lins, in the interior of São Paulo, and in Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, but reaches a total of 87 municipalities in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná and Santa Catarina, with the potential to promote environmental awareness for more than 10 million people in these regions.


The program, which has the support of local city halls in Lins and Curitiba, helps to ensure that UCO is not disposed of incorrectly, such as in sinks or on the ground, for example.


Instead, it becomes one of the raw materials for manufacturing biodiesel.


In total, more than 550 commercial establishments have already supplied UCO for the initiative.


Collections are made on a scheduled basis, with company trucks and cars, in bars, restaurants, schools and other oil-generating locations.


The collected product undergoes analysis, accompanied by auditors, in which it is verified whether the oil meets the acidity, impurity and humidity parameters for the production of biodiesel.


In addition to the companies that support the program, 51 schools and social institutions actively participate in activities to promote awareness and correct allocation among their visitors.


Each product collection in these spaces results in improvements and books for social institutions and schools.


Óleo Amigo considers that, through education, it is possible to provoke new sustainable habits and attitudes, which will subsequently be maintained by new generations.


Since its inception, the program has directly reached more than 30,000 students, who have become spokespeople for environmental awareness.


“We teach people in a playful way about how much the program can benefit the environment and society,” Pereira said. “For example, we use aquariums to demonstrate how oil forms a layer on top of the water that blocks the passage of oxygen, damaging the entire ecosystem.”


Within the concept of circular economy, JBS uses 99 percent of each cattle processed by the company.


In poultry and pigs, this is 94 percent.


From the residues of the cattle production process, in addition to biodiesel, leather is obtained for covering furniture, clothing and accessories, collagen peptides and gelatins, in addition to the manufacture of soaps and many other products.



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