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Eni and Hera announce circular economy partnership deal

In Italy, international oil and gas major Eni S.p.A. and Gruppo Hera S.p.A., a multi-utility that provides energy, waste and wastewater management services in over 350 municipalities in northern Italy, have signed a partnership agreement with the aim of converting used cooking oil (UCO) into biofuel for Hera’s waste collection vehicles.

Stefano Venier (left) CEO, Gruppo Hera and Giuseppe Ricci, Chief Refining & Marketing Officer,
Eni have reached a circular economy deal. The partnership will allow the oil collected by Hera to
be converted into Eni Green Diesel at Eni’s Venice biorefinery and be used by Hera’s urban waste
collection fleet (photo courtesy Eni).

The agreement revolves around used cooking oil (UCO) collected by Hera in around 400 roadside containers and about 120 collection centres. It will be sent to the Eni biorefinery in Porto Marghera, Venice. This is the first oil refinery in the world to be converted into a biorefinery for the production of Green Diesel, a completely renewable product that accounts for 15 percent of Enidiesel+.

This biofuel will power Hera’s urban waste collection vehicles. During an initial phase, Enidiesel+ will be used by around thirty large vehicles in the Modena area to test and optimise the fuel’s environmental benefits. To further support of the initiative, Hera has decided to boost the roadside collection of vegetable oil by introducing 300 new dedicated containers in the areas in which it operates.

In 2017 alone, 800 tonnes of waste vegetable oil were collected, recovered and processed for use either as lubricants or energy. This service is increasingly comprehensive. It also provides an incentive to properly recycle waste oil and also works to prevent behaviour such as pouring oil down the sink, which damages household plumbing and wastewater treatment plants (WWTP).

Eni has begun the journey towards an energy transition that envisages an increasingly important role for biofuels in the process of decarbonising our planet. The agreement with Hera adds a significant component to our concrete commitment to the circular economy and reinforces the use of waste, specifically cooking oil, as an important raw material for producing the innovative fuel Enidiesel+ and as a replacement for the edible raw materials that are currently used. As a result of the initiatives and deals that Eni has developed following the agreement with CONOE (National Consortium for the Collection and Treatment of Used Oils and Fats) and its individual members, more than 50 percent of the cooking oil collected in Italy is now converted into biofuel at the Venice biorefinery, with clear benefits for the environment and the economy, commented Giuseppe Ricci, Eni Chief Refining & Marketing Officer.

Ricci added that refinery in Venice is the first in the world to be converted into a biorefinery and will be joined in a few months by the Gela refinery, which is also being “calibrated for the bio-cycle”. The deal extends the already “thriving virtuous circle” Eni has established with multi-utility companies in Turin, Venice and Rome.

According to Eni, results from tests have shown major benefits in terms of air quality, the economy and industry. Compared to conventional diesel, Enidiesel+ features a renewable component that reduces polluting emissions by up to 40 percent, consumption by about 4 percent and engine maintenance costs. These metrics will be monitored by both companies in collaboration with the Institute for Engines (Istituto Motori) at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR).

An economic model is truly circular if it addresses the entire life cycle of resources, with genuine partnerships among the businesses involved and residents. It would go beyond merely managing the final stage of collecting waste that perhaps has been delivered to third parties. Hera is therefore committed not only to extending the life cycle of materials through recycling and reuse initiatives, but also to developing solutions and plants that can turn substances into new products or draw energy from them, especially within the biobased supply chain. Our agreement with Eni continues in this direction. It has identified a new way in which we can use waste resources to contribute to decarbonisation and energy efficiency. Waste oil that becomes advanced biofuel with a reduced carbon footprint and is reused for waste collection is a perfect example of the circular economy, one that adds to the progress of the many initiatives we’ve already launched in this area, explained Stefano Venier, CEO, Hera Group.

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