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Monday, 2 October, 2000, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Poppadom power for lorries

Waste vegetable oil is refined into e-diesel
A by-product of one of Britain's favourite snacks is being turned into a cleaner alternative to diesel.

An Asian food manufacturer in the North West is using the oil left over from deep-frying poppadoms to fuel its delivery lorries.

Sharwoods in Cheshire adopted the scheme after a local scientist convinced the company that used vegetable oil could be turned into a substitute for diesel, sometimes referred to as biodiesel.

The factory gets through five tonnes of the fat each week and used to sell the waste for animal feed.

But entrepreneur Stephen Whittaker persuaded the management to try the recycling process.

Marco del Pizzo said the company was hesitant at first. "I wasn't sure whether to believe him or not," he told the BBC.

Beating the fuel crisis

"But we met and talked it through and I believe he is a very clever chap with a very interesting process on his hands."

Mr Whittaker also converts waste vegetable oil from other local factories, restaurants and even fish and chip shops.

"It's a slightly higher quality than diesel and very good lubrication for the engine," he says.

The poppadom hauliers are using the fuel on four of their trucks and say it has already proved itself during the fuel crisis.

And with Britons crunching their way through 200 million poppadoms a year, the raw material is readily available.

The practice of converting vegetable oils for fuel is not in itself a new development, but the process is not thought to be in common use across the UK.

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