Well Oil Be Damned!

Liquid Gold – With a name like that, you’d imagine that this is about oil, and it is, but not petroleum oil but used cooking oil.

Thanks to recycling techniques and citizen awareness to the necessity of separating rubbish, and more importantly, responsable disposal, the tonnes of used cooking oil are no longer going down the toilet, kitchen sink or worse, if that is possible.

Each town now has special, collection containers where you can leave your used oil, so that it can be recycled – you know that, we know that… and so do the unscrupulous. Yup! we now have container raiders who are making a killing on stealing your used oil!

But before we go onto who are these slippery customers, what is supposed to happen to this oil, anyway?

Thanks to growing recycling consciousness all over the country, companies have sprung up all over Spain that specialise in the collection of used oil or in processing it, or both, to make biofuels and anybody can approach them with used oil – in interesting amounts, obviously – and walk away a little richer than when they arrived. We’re talking about recycling plants paying out 70 centimes a kilo – it also depends on the price of petroleum at the time.

Note: there is a small difference between a kilo and a litre, as oil is lighter than water.

Just as you might be learning about this now, our cacos (small-time thieves) stumbled on the fact and have been targetting the used-oil containers all over the country – and the province of Granada is no stranger to this new Olympic sport.

In the city of Granada alone the amount of used oil collected by Inagra (the company that has the municipal contract) has dropped by 23 percent since 2015… and it’s not because they’re eating less fried food up there, Folks!

The company complained to the police and now the Policía Local and Policía Nacional have included the 226 used-oil containers in their beats. Besides these street containers, the company also receives the used oil from nine large restaurants.

These containers can have a capacity of up to 360 litres… do your maths: 360 x 266 = 95 metric tonnes, more or less. Guess who has been doing their maths too! Why bother breaking into a car or stripping lampposts of their copper wire when you can load up with ‘free’ used oil, thoughfully placed within easy reach?

Sometimes equipped with a master-key instrument, during the night, they joyfully load up with the goodies, and load it into their slippery vans.

Now, you can understand Inagra feeling a bit peeved because they provide the containers, which don’t come in Lucky Bags, by the way and are quite expensive. They’re also paying salaries and transport costs. They get in exchange 65% of the litre price and the other 35% goes to the City Hall.

So far, a couple has been caught redhanded in the Casería de Montijo area of the city and they weren’t spring chicks, either, as they were aged 62 and 83.

But there is a lot more used oil around than what Inagra has the contract to collect, because there are a helluva lot more restaurants and bars in Granada than just nine. Many, if not most of them, have private arrangements: cash for used oil. Some of those that collect the oil are doing it on the quiet; i.e., they don’t have specialised transport or any ‘residual-collection licences or training.’

So, how much oil does a restaurant get through? Obviously, it depends, but if you have a bar that specialises in fried fish and you’re well situated in the centre of the city, you’re looking at 500 litres a month, but as there are many middle men in the chain, they could probably only sell it for about 20 to 30 centimes a litre.

And yes, that’s just the city of Granada, but this is a problem all over the country and just the same as when there is a full moon, there is more violent crime, that when the price of the price of petroleum rises, more used-oil containers are found empty, or worse, forced open and empty.

(News: Metropolitan Area, Granada, Andalucia)

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