OTSU, Shiga Pref. (Kyodo) A gas station in Toyosato, Shiga Prefecture, has become the main recycling base for the local community as it is manufacturing and selling low-emission biodiesel made from recycled vegetable oil.

The gas station, which also collects more than 10 other types of recyclable materials, is the only one in the country to collect and recycle vegetable oil. It has been flooded with inquiries from people who want to know more about its recycling program.

Aburato Shoji Corp., the station operator, joined a campaign in 2002 to fuel cars with vegetable oil used for tempura. The project was backed by a co-op — formerly called the Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union — a food producer and a supermarket chain.

Aburato Shoji refines the vegetable oil in a machine, and then mixes in diesel oil and another type of biofuel to make the vehicle fuel. Putting the refined vegetable oil alone into a car risks damaging the engine.

Biodiesel is several yen more per liter than diesel because of the refining costs and diesel tax, but it has been selling well as environmentally conscious individuals and community organizations prefer it, according to the company.

The company collects about 3,000 liters of used vegetable oil per month from about 30 businesses in the prefecture and residents who bring in their oil.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. in May began sending Aburato Shoji 600 liters of vegetable oil a month from its office cafeterias. It uses the resulting biodiesel in about 20 of its vehicles, including delivery trucks.

The company has received about 20 inquiries so far this year from firms that want to reuse their cooking oil.

One store in Tokyo contacted Aburato Shoji in June, saying it wanted to reuse the 30,000 liters of oil it uses every month for cooking.

“I hope gas stations across the country will expand the chain of recycling,” said Hiroshi Aoyama, 35, a senior managing director in Aburato Shoji.

Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning fuel made from biomass, including vegetable oils. When burned, it emits less carbon dioxide, a major contributor of global warming.

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