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London's Buses Will Soon Be Powered By Greasy Meat

Beef fat and cooking oil will be used as fuel for London's thousands of city buses, which makes us feel a little better about our love of late-night sandwiches.
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US
December 26, 2015, 3:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Alex Kehr

Ever been kvetching about high gas prices and thought to yourself, I wish I could run my car on the oily drippings from the shawarma I had for lunch?

Yeah, us neither. But that doesn't mean the idea of it is half-bad. After all, think of all the frying oil and stove grease that gets tossed out of every burger joint, diner, and kebab spot in your city, let alone the world.

London will be taking this concept to heart, and by this March, over 3,000 buses in the English capital will be running off diesel fuel made in large part with these cooking byproducts, according to the Evening Standard. That's more than a third of the city's 8,900 buses.


Yep, that means your daily commute around East London could be fueled by the surplus fat from your late-night beef sandwich. The buses in question are operated by Stagecoach and Metroline, who will be sourcing the B20 green diesel—as it's known—from a company called Argent Energy that mixes it up using beef fat and cooking oil. But the benefits are two-fold; first of all, the meat waste is recycled rather than accumulating in landfills in trashcans, and secondly, the fuel is clean-burning and made from renewable sources, making it a more environmentally friendly choice that could assist the city in reducing its carbon footprint. The switch to B20 is expected to projected to cut London's carbon emissions by 21,000 tons annually.

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Matthew Pencharz, the deputy for environment and energy to London Mayor Boris Johnson, said that the new fuel will be another step in the right direction for the city's environmental initiatives to combat climate change.

"Just a fortnight after the Mayor's visit to the Paris conference on preventing global warming," he said, "I am very pleased to announce that nearly a third of London's buses will now be running on biodiesel, slashing the overall carbon emissions of the fleet and making use of fuels that would otherwise be clogging up our drains … These buses will be a proud addition to what is already the greenest bus fleet in the world, including hybrid, pure electric and pure hydrogen vehicles."

Of course, using cooking grease to make biofuel isn't exactly a brand-new concept. But anytime that our staggering amount of food waste can find a renewed purpose, it's undoubtedly a plus. Take, for instance, a new UK start-up's goal of heating 15,000 London homes with used coffee grounds by next year.

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Now if we could only find a way to charge our cell phones using our uneaten pizza crusts. We're not quite there yet, but we've at least got our portabello mushroom batteries.