Scotland Reduces Bus Fares for Passengers Who Supply Cooking Oil

Grocery Store
Stagecoach Group Chief Executive at the launch of the company's Bio-Bus project in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

Passengers riding on certain buses in Scotland will soon be able to trade in their used cooking oil for reduced fares. The oil will be recycled to power a fleet of eight buses that run on 100-percent biodiesel as part of a trial initiative by Stagecoach, one of the United Kingdom’s largest bus and coach operators, to reduce carbon emissions. “This innovative project is a great opportunity for our customers to play their part in saving the planet by recycling household products that would otherwise go to waste,” said Brian Souter, Stagecoach group chief executive. “I’m sure the idea of cheaper travel in exchange for the used contents of your chip pan will capture people’s imagination.”

All households on the Service 1 route, which runs from Stewarton to Darvel and carries some 15,500 passengers per week, will be given a container to collect their used cooking oil. Customers can then take the oil to a local recycling plant to receive vouchers for discounted bus travel. The used cooking oil and tallow will be converted to biodiesel for the buses, helping to avoid concerns about environmental damage and competition with food supplies that have arisen with other biodiesel feedstocks, such as palm oil, soybeans, and rapeseed.

The “Bio-buses” have dual fuel tanks with a capacity for 184 liters of biodiesel and 40 liters of mineral (standard) diesel. To start up in the morning, the buses will run on mineral diesel for about 10 minutes until the engine reaches a normal operating temperature. After that time, the system automatically switches over to biodiesel. By running on alternative fuels, the vehicles will save 960 tons of carbon emissions per year, according to Stagecoach.

The initiative, a joint project between Stagecoach and bioenergy specialist Argent Energy, was launched last week by The Right Honorable Des Browne, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudon and Scotland’s Secretary of State. “I welcome this innovative collaboration between two of our leading companies,” said Browne. “A recycling initiative that fuels public transport cuts carbon emissions twice over. It is particularly important that the project is using bio fuel from wholly recycled material and not from a source competing with food production.”

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.

Passengers riding on certain buses in Scotland will soon be able to trade in their used cooking oil for reduced fares.