The company said construction of the new plant at its site in the Free Economic Zone will commence at the start of 2021, with biodiesel production targeted to start up in the last quarter of that same year. The project will involve an investment of some €6 -7 million and create six new jobs.
The company has been using rapeseed oil in the production of its biofuel since 2007, said Arunas Zubas, CEO of Mestilla. Used cooking oil, a waste product that can be a problem for restaurants to dispose of, offers a viable alternative.
“Used vegetable oil is a left over after frying or processing food in other ways,” said Zubas. “This waste cannot be spilled down the drain because oil is difficult to treat at waste management plants.”
He noted that the European Commission, as well as the Republic of Lithuania, strongly encourages the repurposing of this waste, the production of modern biofuel, and the circular economy.
“Processing this used oil to biodiesel, which will later be mixed with mineral fuel, will allow us to contribute to a cleaner and safer environment and reducing Lithuania’s dependency on fossil fuel.”
The European Commission’s new Renewable Energy Directive - RED II – has set a target of 14%, up from 10% by 2020, for the use of biofuel in transportation by 2030. Of this, 7% may be derived from first-generation feedstock, with the remaining 7% produced from used cooking oil and other waste.
The Commission has calculated that first-generation biofuel reduces CO2 emissions by 60%, while used cooking oil biofuel reduces emissions by 90%, in addition to strengthening local and rural region economies and reducing the dependency on imported energy sources.
Mestilla expects to process up to 40,000 tonnes of used oil per year, approximately 15% of the company’s total processing capacity, once the expansion project is complete. The company will collaborate with various partners to collect the used cooking oil from Lithuanian companies in the food sector.
The project has been received with enthusiasm by the Lithuanian Biotechnology Association (LBA). Far too often, the waste and by-products generated by the various industrial sectors go unutilised, said Inga Matijošytė,, the Vice President of LBA. “This waste and by-products, which amounts to 8 tonnes annually in Lithuania alone, is considered to be a foundation for bio-based industry development in Lithuania, because the country has a lot of untapped potential in the biomass and waste sectors, according to a study by the Bio-based Industry Consortium,” she said.
Matijošytė noted that Mestilla as one of the few companies in the Baltics, meets EU requirements for qualifying as a biorefinery due to its circular economy-friendly waste-free production.
Mestilla’s oil refining process will take place in closed containers, pipes, and reactors, without interaction with environmental air. Similar used vegetable oil recycling refineries are being operated by companies like Green Energy Biofuels (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), EcoMotion (Losning, Denmark; Montmelo, Spain; Lunen, Germany) and Argent Energy (Motherwell, the UK).