In the bustling hotpot haven of Chengdu, Sichuan Jinshang Environmental Protection is pioneering a unique approach to sustainability by repurposing around 150,000 tonnes of discarded hotpot oil annually, turning it into industrial-grade oil destined for aviation fuel markets worldwide.
Ye Bin, the company’s general manager, expressed pride in the rising success of the venture since its inception in 2017, highlighting the motto, “Let oil from the gutter soar in the sky.” The process involves collecting used hotpot oil from various eateries across Chengdu, including popular chains like KFC.
Collectors, adorned in protective gear, retrieve the scarlet grease after restaurants filter out hotpot broth. The collected sludge undergoes refining at Jinshang’s state-of-the-art plant on the city’s outskirts, producing a clear, yellow-tinged industrial-grade oil. This oil is then exported to clients, mainly in Europe, the United States, and Singapore, where it is further processed into “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF).
SAFs are becoming increasingly crucial in the aviation sector’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Despite their potential, they currently represent less than 0.1 percent of all aviation fuels consumed due to processing costs and limited suppliers. However, the International Air Transport Association suggests that widespread adoption of SAFs could contribute significantly to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Jinshang plans to expand its operations with a dedicated SAF-producing facility, aiming to utilize equipment from US firm Honeywell to produce 300,000 tonnes annually.
Beyond the aviation sector, Jinshang’s innovative business model aligns with broader initiatives in China to address the staggering issue of food waste, which totals around 350 million tonnes annually. This waste poses environmental challenges, emitting methane gas in landfills more rapidly than many other materials.
China is actively pursuing solutions to this problem, with plans for innovative food waste processing projects nationwide. The success of ventures like Jinshang’s not only contributes to sustainable aviation practices but also aligns with the country’s commitment to addressing environmental concerns and achieving climate goals.
Meanwhile, in other Chinese cities like Shanghai, waste treatment facilities are utilizing innovative approaches such as black soldier flies to convert food waste into fertilizers and animal feed. These endeavors mark significant strides in repurposing waste and contributing to a more sustainable future.