Unusual oil recycling scheme halves cost of repairs

An unusual recycling scheme introduced in March 2013 on Lisson Green estate has cut the cost of drainage repairs by more than half.

CityWest Homes, which manages the Lisson Green estate in Marylebone on behalf of Westminster City Council, launched a pilot scheme enabling residents to recycle their leftover cooking oil instead of pouring it down the drains. When cooking oil is poured down drains it congeals, sticking to the lining of drainage pipes and causing them to block. Across the country, cooking oil is responsible for approximately 150,000 sewer blockages each year.

Blocked drains have a number of unpleasant consequences, leading to bad smells and eventually nasty flooding which can force families out of their homes. In partnership with Wates Living Space, Flow 3 Drains and Vital Regeneration, CityWest Homes devised a simple but ingenious plan to tackle the problem. We installed a 500-litre tank on the Lisson Green estate, enabling residents to recycle their cooking oil and prevent the blockages that result from pouring it down the drain.

As part of the pilot, we conducted a number of workshops across the estate informing residents of the problems they could avoid by using the service.

The scheme has made huge savings since it was introduced. The cost of drainage repairs was cut by more than half between 2012 and 2013, having dropped by 53% as a result of the service.

And the savings don't end there – the vehicles which collect the oil from the tank use that same oil as fuel. It is converted into biodiesel, which is nontoxic, more biodegradable than petro-diesel and cleaner to burn.

Following the success of the pilot, CityWest Homes is looking to roll the scheme out to other estates in Westminster.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for housing and business, said: “This is an example of the kind of innovative thinking that makes a real difference while also enabling us to make crucial savings. Going green is the way forward and we are doing our best to help residents recycle with new approaches which benefit the whole community. Our approach to housing is all about making Westminster a better place to live, and simple but effective changes such as this will help us on our way towards that goal.”

Peter Armfield, sustainability manager at CityWest Homes, said: “This scheme has been even more successful than we anticipated. I am delighted that so many residents have taken to using the facility – the first of its kind – and they are now reaping the rewards. Not only has it helped us cut costs, meaning that resources can be spent where they are needed elsewhere. It has also reduced the disruption caused by blocked drains and been kind to the environment in the process.”

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