Cameroon Chemist Recycles Used Cooking Oil into Cleaning Products


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  • A chemist from Cameroon has found a way to recycle used cooking oil so it does not end up polluting the environment.
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  • Martial Gervais Oden-Bella makes soap and other cleansing products out of cooking oil from hotels and restaurants in the southwestern city of Douala. Most of the businesses used to pour all their oil waste into drain pipes.
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  • Scientists say if used oil is poured down drains or released into nature, it can pollute water treatment systems and the environment. The oil waste can also harm animals.
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  • Oden-Bella told VOA he got the idea of recycling used cooking oil after hotel officials recognized the huge amount of oil their business was using.
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  • The hotel used to release all its cooking oil waste into the environment. But officials were concerned about the harmful effects this was having.
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  • Oden-Bella thought about a possible solution and developed a way to create cleansing products from the used oil. He launched production in 2014. Today, he operates a business that produces 165 kilograms of soap and two tons of liquid detergent each month.
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  • Even small businesses have joined in recycling their old cooking oil. Adeline Monkam makes donuts in Douala. In the past, she threw out her store's used oil. But after learning that this can pollute the environment, Monkam decided to recycle the oil.
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  • Frantz Tafongang is an environmental scientist who leads Biotex Laboratory, which recycles used oil. He told VOA the recycling operation reduces pollution while creating new and valued products.
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  • Tafongang said waste oil can be harmful if swallowed directly. But if recycled, the oil can be used to produce safe personal care products, he said. Biotex Laboratory said hotels in Douala alone produce about 20,000 liters of waste oil each month.
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  • Oden-Bella says too much of that oil is still being thrown away. He is calling for increased public education to show people how used cooking oil can be recycled into useful products.
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  • I'm Bryan Lynn.
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  • Anne Nzouankeu reported this story for VOA News. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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  • Words in This Story
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  • recycle - v. to treat or process in an effort to regain material for reuse
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  • drain - n. a pipe of hole that takes away waste liquids or water
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  • donut - n. a small, usually ring-shaped fried cake