31 October 2016

The Christmas waste fat campaign: renewable diesel for charity from ham fat

This Christmas, rather than just talk about the circular economy we are going to show how it works. We saw an opportunity in the Christmas tradition of our ham-loving country to show that there are everyday things that can be used to improve the bioeconomy. Or in this case, festive things.

In Finland, around seven million kilograms of ham are eaten every Christmas. And every year, excess fat causes problems for households and water supply plants. Instead of disposing of the fat or – even worse – pouring it down the drain, it can be used as an energy source. This also applies to other sources of waste and residue. By recycling different materials, they can be used effectively.

This idea gave birth to a waste fat campaign (Kinkkutemppu in Finnish) which, in a concrete way, demonstrates what the circular economy can be at its best. This Christmas, every one of us can collect and take our ham fat in a recycling container. Neste will then use it as a raw material to produce renewable diesel at its Porvoo refinery. This will be done by using the same methods Neste uses to manufacture large volumes of similar fuels every year worldwide.

Manufacturing fuels from waste and residue is the sensible choice. In this way, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by as much as 90% compared with conventional fossil diesel. We have calculated that the waste fat of an average ham converts to roughly three kilometers driven in a private car.

We have been able to recruit a brave network of companies and organizations to the campaign to enable its success. By working together, we can show that Finland has the potential to drive the circular economy.  

We will bring waste fat containers to the recycling areas of central food stores and Neste stations. Our aim is to challenge as many people as possible to take part and to donate their ham fat to the campaign. Restaurants, workplace cafeterias, and various organizations that intend to bake a ham for their Christmas parties are also welcome to join.

This Christmas, excess fat will do good deeds as we will donate the fuel volume manufactured through the waste fat campaign to charity. Our objective is that we can produce enough fuel to travel three times around the globe.

We need courage and an innovative mind-set to create something new. Let's see what we can do together! 

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Simo Honkanen
Senior Vice President, Sustainability and Public Affairs, Neste