Olleco Supply Collect Convert

Leading the way to a circular economy

In its short lifetime, Olleco has grown to become one of the UK’s most progressive circular economy companies, leading the way for the food and hospitality industries to embrace a more sustainable future. We have the global climate crisis front of mind in everything we do and we are deploying human ingenuity to create innovative technologies and dynamic systems that help our partners radically reduce their carbon footprint with the ultimate goal of achieving zero carbon operations.

Olleco is the renewables arm of ABP Food Group and has grown to become the UK’s leading supplier of premium cooking oils and fats and collector of used cooking oil and food waste. Employing over 1000 people, at more than 19 sites, strategically located throughout the UK and Ireland, we service over 50,000 catering establishments. Olleco converts the waste oil it collects into biodiesel and the food waste is transformed into biomethane, electricity, heat and organic fertiliser. In addition to a comprehensive network of local depots, we operate five used cooking oil processing plants, a biodiesel plant, a bulk liquid storage facility and three anaerobic digestion (AD) plants with support from a wider network of licensed AD facilities.

Our life story

Conceived in 2006 by ABP, our parent group, Olleco was originally created to address changes in legislation which banned used cooking oil from its traditional use as an ingredient in animal feed. To avoid this precious, energy-rich material from going to landfill where it contributes to global warming or being disposed of to sewer where it forms fatbergs, Olleco set out to collect as much used cooking oil as possible to be converted into high value, renewable fuels such as biodiesel.

Reversing the carbon impact of our logistics 

To reduce the carbon footprint of our used cooking oil collections, the natural next step was to use the outward leg of our collection journeys to deliver fresh cooking oils and fats. We sourced a range of premium cooking oils and fats from sustainable sources to meet the demands of our growing customer base and procured a fleet of bespoke vehicles. Deploying “reverse logistics” in this way was a beautifully simple tactic to reduce the carbon impact of the cooking oil supply chain by 50%.

Taking the lead

This business model, coupled with a highly professional national service, quickly propelled Olleco to market leadership and won us the business of many of the largest names in the food industry. Not content with that, we looked at other areas where the food industry could improve its carbon footprint and avoid wasting valuable resources. Food waste was often being sent to landfill where it produces methane - a greenhouse gas around 25 times more damaging than CO₂. However, by processing it through an anaerobic digestor, the methane can be safely captured and used to make renewable energy. Seeing this opportunity, Olleco added food waste collections to the services it offers its customers. Segregating food waste is the single most important factor in reducing the carbon footprint of any restaurant and the Sustainable Restaurant Association awards an extra star to any member using a food waste collection service.

The birth of a new generation of biorefineries

Initially, Olleco used third party suppliers to convert used cooking oil into biofuels but we quickly realised that, by developing our own state of the art biorefinery, we could produce biofuels of a superior standard that could potentially be used at higher concentrations in road vehicles. Thus, Olleco Liverpool was born. Having created the largest biorefinery in the UK specialising in used cooking oil, we examined how we could make it even greener. The answer was to build an onsite anaerobic digestion (AD) plant which would use food waste to generate heat and power creating the UK’s first carbon-neutral biorefinery. It is configured to extract more biodiesel per litre of cooking oil and we have worked closely with Martin Brower to allow the fleet they use to service McDonald’s Restaurants to run on 100% biodiesel, cutting carbon emissions by 86%.

Global recognition as a circular economy leader

Inspired by our success of our zero carbon biorefinery, we embarked on the development of state of the art anaerobic digestors and seized the opportunity to work with Arla as they developed their milk processing plant at Aylesbury. Collaborating with our clients McDonald’s, we developed a facility that would use food waste from their restaurants to make Arla’s new plant the world’s largest carbon net zero dairy. The rich organic fertiliser created as a byproduct of the AD process could then be used to improve soil condition by farmers producing food for the restaurants, milk for the dairy and oil crops to feed our supply chain.  The project went on to win us second place at the Circulars Awards at the world economic forum 2019 in Davos.

Inside Plant
Olleco Aylesbury - AD

The Royal Warrant

On April 1st 2019 Olleco was awarded the Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen. This was the result of over five years of unblemished service delivering fresh oil to, and collecting used oil from, Royal Estates across the country. We’re enormously proud to be one of the first companies to be supplying the Royal Household with a Circular Economy “closed loop” solution. And, of course, bearing the Royal Warrant is a huge honour and testament to the excellence of our service provision.