Guidance

Biodiesel producers: when you can use animal fat and cooking oil

Find out what animal by-products you can use to make biodiesel, whether you need approval, how to process them and how to use the products.

When you need approval and where you can source animal by-products from

You must apply for approval from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) before using animal fat or animal oil to make biodiesel.

You also need APHA approval to use vegetable oil from a food factory to make biodiesel if the oil was:

  • extracted from food that contained animal by-products (ABPs)
  • used to fry meat or fish or in contact with animal proteins in any other way

You don’t need APHA approval to make biodiesel from vegetable oil from the catering industry (eg vegetable oil from a domestic or restaurant kitchen).

If you are approved you will be inspected regularly by APHA officers. The frequency of inspections will depend on APHA’s assessment of risk at your facility.

Where to source ABP material from

You must source any ABPs that you use to make biodiesel from an APHA-authorised ABP processing facility, to make sure they have gone through any required treatments.

This requirement applies to vegetable oil from the catering industry (even though you don’t need APHA approval to use it to make biodeisel) if the oil was:

  • extracted from food that contained animal by-products (ABPs)
  • used to fry meat or fish or in contact with animal proteins in any other way

Treatments required in your biodiesel facility

You must also treat any ABPs that you use, once they have arrived at your facility.

There are 3 categories of ABP material, and treatment requirements differ across the categories. Find out which ABP category your material falls into.

Esterification (category 1 and 2 ABP material only)

You must esterify any category 1 or 2 ABP material that you use.

To esterify ABPs:

  • add sulphuric acid, or a similar acid, to the ABPs
  • heat the mixture to at least 72°C for at least 2 hours while mixing intensely

The pH of the resulting mixture must be 1 or lower.

Transesterification (all ABP material)

You must transesterify all ABPs, including category 3 material, twice.

To transesterify ABPs:

  • add potassium hydroxide, or a similar alkaline
  • heat mixture to between 35°C and 50°C and keep within that temperature range for at least 15 minutes

The pH of the resulting mixture must be about 14.

Vacuum distillation (all ABP material)

You must vacuum distill all ABPs, including category 3 material, at 150ºC.

Testing samples for bacteria

You must test samples of processed material for Salmonella and Enterobacteriaceae to check your treatments have removed bacteria.

You may also have to test for other bacteria if APHA made that a condition when they approved your facility.

You should take samples once a week.

Find out more about laboratory testing requirements for ABPs including details of how and when to take samples, and where to send them for testing.

How to use or dispose of products

There are restrictions on how you use and dispose of your products if you use ABPs to make biodiesel.

Glycerine

You can use glycerine:

  • to make fertiliser
  • to make biogas

You can also use glycerine as animal feed, if all of the following apply:

  • you don’t use any category 1 or 2 ABP material (any ABP material you use is category 3)
  • none of your ABP material came from catering waste
  • your facility is approved by APHA
  • you remove all animal proteins and muscle fibres first and send them for incineration

Potassium sulphate

You can use potassium sulphate to make fertiliser

Waste material

You must incinerate any waste material or put it in deep landfill.

Other requirements

You must follow other regulations that apply across the ABP industry in areas such as record keeping, documentation and transport. Find out more about general ABP regulations in the overview guide for the ABP industry.