Circular economy

ASB Biodiesel eyes opportunities in Pearl River Delta region

Jeff Pao for EJ Insight | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 03, 2016



ASB Biodiesel, the largest used oil refiner in Hong Kong, converts used cooking oil or waste oil from vegetable and animal fat into biodiesel that can be blended with regular diesel and used in conventional engines, without modification.

The company claims to have a maximum annual production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of low-carbon transport fuel, enough to fuel every diesel engine on Hong Kong's roads with B10 (a 10 per cent blend) and offset 257,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The company now seeks to expand its production to the Pearl River Delta region in southern China. Due to its vast population and high ratio of used cooking oil per capita, "China has a lot of waste oil and has a big potential for us,'' said Roberto Vazquez, chief executive of ASB Biodiesel.

"By the end of 2017, we will utilise 80 per cent of our capacity, which is enough for us to be profitable…We will start looking into opportunities in China next year. "The company will seek a local partner such as a state-owned oil company.''

ASB Biodiesel was founded in Bahrain in 2007, and the factory, based in Tseung Kwan O, began operations in 2014. 

Vásquez said that it collects waste oil from restaurants in Hong Kong, Singapore and Guangdong province.

Hong Kong is a good source because it’s a high-density city with strong law enforcement in the treatment of used oil. Any city in China with a population of at least 20 million and strong law enforcement in the treatment of waste oil can be considered for ASB's expansion plans.

At the same time, Vásquez said, "It is much more complicated to start collecting waste oil from China because its food and environmental hygiene standards are not that sophisticated. There's always a risk that waste oil from China ends up improperly managed or used cooking oil ends up being recycled back to cooking oil.''

ASB Biodiesel's final product is mainly sold to Europe and China. Only a small amount is sold in Hong Kong, since the city’s levy on traditional diesel was lifted in 2009 and buyers pay a premium for biodiesel.

Vazquez hopes the Hong Kong government will launch a mandate program that would require fuel suppliers to have their products blended with biodiesel.

He said European countries now have mandates of 4 to 8 per cent blend while the United States has a similar quota system.

"The greenhouse gas policy has to be at government level. It is the responsibility of citizens to bear the cost of greenhouse gas reduction,'' he said.

Published on November 03, 2016
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