An optimised UCO collection system combining smart sensors and real time monitoring through web based platform improves waste management efficiency in Rethymno.
Improper Used Cooking Oil (UCO) disposal in drainage raises energy consumption of wastewater treatment and is highly toxic to sea, streams, lakes and other ecosystems. Recycling UCO to biodiesel is a sustainable alternative to exploit a problematic waste, transforming it to energy resource. Aiming to increase the waste management efficiency and promote clean fuels, the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems Lab of Technical University of Crete, in collaboration with the Municipality of Rethymno and local stakeholders (Waste Management Dpt, Enterprise of Water and Sewage, Inter-Municipal Waste Management Company, UCO collectors), defined an operational scheme for a local UCO-to-biodiesel chain. A new “smart” UCO collection system was launched in 2018; 30 collections points with “smart” bins integrating sensors with GSM technology and a web-based platform. The platform allows real-time monitoring of bins’ filing level and optimisation of the collector drivers' routes. It sends alerts at selected fill rate, temperature raise, low battery level, unauthorised movements or vandalism incidents. Through the smart management system, the collection efficiency is increased and operational costs are reduced. Fewer collection trips mean less fuel consumption and less greenhouse gas emissions. Targeted communication activities increase the UCO recycling rate and enhance its proper disposal. A small-scale biodiesel production unit demonstrates the UCO transformation to a clean fuel.

Resources needed

> 30 smart UCO bins equipped with sensors+web platform:22.000€ > Installation & system maintenance staff cost > Promotional campaign:5.000€ > Small scale biodiesel production unit to transform UCO to clean fuel:12.000€ Cofunded by Interreg MED COMPOSE and H2020 CIVITAS DESTINATIONS projects

Evidence of success

> 30 bins in selected outdoor sites; 20 bins at schools > 3,500 l of UCO collected so far
> 40,000 people reached by awareness-raising activities.
> ensured sustainability due to public-private sector collaboration.
> MoU singed between TUC and Inter–Municipal Waste Management Company in Crete, to examine potential expansion to other municipalities.
> 6 Municipalities in Greece and EU noted interest to replicate.
> Case presented, after abstract review, in 10 EU workshops/conferences.

Difficulties encountered

• Engage citizen in proper disposal of UCO.
• Strategic siting of collection bins.
• Regulations hindering small-scale biodiesel production licensing and self-consumption.
• Financial limitations for maintenance (keep clean bins/location); system to be self-financed by collected UCO volume.

Potential for learning or transfer

The transferability potential of this good practice is high. The tested approach for the households’ produced UCO recycling and the efficient management of UCO collection, through smart IT solutions, real time monitoring, optimum UCO bins siting and behavioural change practices can be easily replicated in other municipalities. The smart UCO collection scheme can be also extended to other types of waste within Rethymno Municipality and of course in other Municipalities, offering several environmental as well as financial benefits. A number of Greek Municipalities have expressed interest to replicate the scheme and the InterMunicipal Waste Management Enterprise, supported the pilot development, examines potential replication of the collection scheme to other municipalities in Crete, by signing an MoU. The fulfilment of a “UCO to biodiesel” value chain locally with a small-scale production unit have great potential, when used by entities that have access to inexpensive feedstock (UCO).

Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.

Main institution
Κρήτη, Greece (Ελλαδα)
Start Date
October 2018
End Date


Please login to contact the author.