The Venice bio-refinery in Italy is preparing to eliminate the use of palm oil in its production of biofuels. Eni advised that the refinery recently submitted documentation to qualify for an environmental impact assessment to build new units that will upgrade the feedstock pretreatment system installed in June 2018. These allow for the treatment of crude vegetable oils, used plant-based cooking oils and used animal fats.
Currently, the systems in Porto Marghera can process approximately 7.5 tonnes of used cooking oil and animal fats per hour.
Eni outlines that with the construction of the new biomass treatment lines, the entire production capacity of the EcofiningTM plant will be fulfilled with biological materials from the waste and residue chains, expanding feedstock options beyond those incentivised by European and national standards, thus definitively eliminating palm oil from the production of biofuels.
The bio-refinery of Venice is the first conventional refinery in the world to be converted into a bio-refinery. Since 2014, the refinery has produced hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), which is added to diesel fuel to meet European and national regulatory requirements which state that an increasing proportion of fuels must be made from raw materials from renewable sources.
In 2020, with an authorised capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year, the refinery processed around 220,000 tonnes of raw materials, of which more than 25 per cent consisted of used cooking oils, animal fats and other waste vegetable oils. From 2023 Eni will no longer use palm oil in its production processes.
The palm oil industry is causing environmental devastation, social breakdown, health problems, and massive habitat and species loss in Malaysia, Indonesia PNG and other parts of the world.
According to Palm Oil Action Australia, clearing one hectare of tropical forest releases between 500 and 900 tonnes of CO2 emissions. As converting a hectare of palm oil into biodiesel saves approximately six tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, it takes 80 to 150 years of production to offset the initial emissions released from deforestation.
It is estimated that the use of Southeast Asian palm oil as a feedstock for biodiesel increase greenhouse gas emissions by at least 2 to 8 times more than those saved by using it as a fuel, compared to petroleum-based diesel.