Greening public services: Waste Oil Recycling Project

April 30, 2010 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

by Raj Cheema

When it comes to greening public services, the Waste Oil Recycling Project has hit the nail on the head. They are just the kind of project we are looking for in our Green Next Practice Programme.

The Waste Oil Recycling Project (WORP) based at HMP Ford has developed a production system that converts used cooking oils in prisons into biodiesel. The biodiesel can then be used as a fuel source for prison vehicles and other equipment, reducing the carbon emissions, waste and costs of the prison estate.

  

At the same time, the project is equipping prisoners with qualifications in safe production of biodiesel. In this way, the project is helping prisoners out of the re-offending cycle as well as growing their understanding of waste and energy. Surplus fuel is also to be sold to fund further training and development.

WORP is the brainchild of a prison employee who realised HMP Ford was producing over 5,000 litres of waste cooking oil each year. In fact, Her Majesty’s Prison Service is the second biggest user of cooking oil in the UK, after the Ministry of Defence. These unique courses have been running since July last year and have EDI accreditation. They are so successful that one prisoner even came back after being released to complete the course.

How does it work? The project is a tripartite collaboration between Work this Way (the social enterprise managing the project and providing funding for training offenders), Labour plus Training (which developed and provides the training to offenders), and HMP Ford (the public sector service where the work takes place). In developing the project, WORP also worked closely with the University of Brighton and Green Fuels Ltd for business and technical support, winning recognition for innovation along the way from the Carbon Trust and NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) . The experience at Ford has shown how the scheme can provide effective links with other sectors in the community, through waste oil collection and potential fuel provision.

The aim of most green projects is to change the behaviour of the individuals concerned within a set context or make the system more energy efficient. WORP appears to be achieving both of these aims and more. So far, the project has helped over 40 offenders to receive this training.  Not surprisingly, the local authority is keen to use surplus production to fuel community buses and there’s been strong interest from other prisons wanting to use the model to start producing their own bio-fuel.

Kay Wagland of Work This Way says ‘we see this approach as joining the dots: increasing employability for the offenders and so helping to reduce re-offending, as well as saving CO2, costs and waste. It has great potential all round for the prison service and beyond. Really quite exciting!’

Having successfully piloted the scheme, this project is currently developing a viable system to roll out production of bio-fuel from waste oil to prisons across the service.  WORP wants to invest in a flexible franchising model. It is currently looking into funding streams for staffing, equipment and research and development to grow this work.

Right now, Innovation Exchange is actively looking for third sector innovations that, like WORP, are working to green public services. If you know a project working in this field then let Raj Cheema know by getting in touch on 020 7259 1368 or email her at raj.cheema@innovation-unit.co.uk.

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Entry filed under: Green Next Practice.

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