Going Circular - Out of the frying pan, into the fire

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Powering our offices on used chip fat

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Bridget Jackson: PwC has 30 different offices across the UK, all of which are powered, to give them heating, lighting, electricity etc., and although you might say that a professional services firm has a relatively light carbon footprint, we wanted to make sure we were doing everything possible to reduce the greenhouse gasses associated with our business.

Jon Barnes: I am Jon Barnes, I am the Head of Building and Technical Services at PwC. I think we have a moral issue as a large company to lead by example.

Bridget Jackson: The Building Research Establishment has an environmental assessment method for buildings, which rates them on their sustainability. PwC wanted to achieve the first outstanding rating when it was developing its More London office. It requires you to look at some innovative solutions that make a step change in sustainability. Traditionally, cooking oil would just be thrown away in landfill. This closed loop system of taking our recycled chip fat and converting it into a clean biofuel was one of those innovations. Uptown oil, the company that we use to convert the chip fat into biofuel is local to us.

Jason Askey-Wood: When they first approached me I think I nearly fell off my perch, so to speak.

Jon Barnes: I don’t think he could believe the amounts of oil that we were talking about, I think it completely bowled him over.

Nigel Jewison: When Jason told me I had to produce twice as much as I was already producing I went “aargh” what am I going to do now? 

Jon Barnes: This is where the used cooking oil is produced by the chefs and kitchen staff here. It is produced and used here and when it is finished then it is removed to the waste soilage area, where we keep it in big drums. That’s the stuff, that is what we need. That is a waste product that we can now use as fuel. 

Jason Askey-Wood: A very old friend of mine was telling me how he ran his car on recycled biodiesel. I had never heard of it, did not know anything about and said, “how do you make it?” He said, “from cooking oil, from the local pub” We were already supplying pubs and restaurants with various products. I came in on the following Monday and I said to Nigel 

Nigel Jewison: “Do you think we can do that?” So I went back to my school days’ chemistry and said, “yes, I reckon I could” 

Jason Askey-Wood: We were talking somewhere in the region of 45-60,000 litres per month so it was a huge amount of fuel.

Nigel Jewison: This up until recently has been a waste product. Raw oil comes in here and literally, within 24 hours, it can be sold onto the streets. It goes through a very simple process that is called transistification. That is good fuel.

Closing the loop

Bridget Jackson: This particular solution is exciting because it is a closed loop. It is taking a waste product which we generate and making it into a raw material that we use back in the business again.

It is all locally sourced oil. We recycle it into biodiesel and then we deliver it PwC which is a 10-minute walk from here.

Jon Barnes: This is a tri-generator so it produces electricity, it produces heating and it produces chilled water for our air conditioning systems.

Bridget Jackson: The tri-generator is a super-efficient bit of kit. It has given us a huge reduction in the amount of energy and the amount of carbon that we have associated with the main buildings in London.

Jon Barnes: At full capacity it will produce 25% of the buildings electricity which is all of the lighting for the building and all of the small power for charging laptops, mobile phones.

Helping the environment, engaging our people

Bridget Jackson: When we opened More London which was or first new big green building in London, we promoted the chip fat story to our employees as part of our engagement about all of the sustainability features of the building.

Jon Barnes: All of our staff want to look around the building, they want to understand how the building works, they want to understand how it operates.

Bridget Jackson: This project is using a waste material to do something useful and displacing a fossil fuel based energy, so much cleaner and better for the environment.

Contact us

Bridget Jackson

Chief Sustainability Officer, PwC United Kingdom

Henry le Fleming

Assistant Director, Plastics & Circular Economy Lead, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 4097

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