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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Use of supermarket cooking oil for biofuel - opinion please from Tesco

Dear Andrew,

In your last email, to me you said that if I had any scientific evidence, I should send it to you. Though not scientific in the true sense of the word, I had an interesting and upsetting experience in my local supermarket (not Tesco) shortly after I sent my last email. I thought you would like you to know about it and that you may wish to investigate for it happening in your own stores.

As I went to the shelf to buy some cooking oil, the gentleman in front of me was filling his shopping trolley with virtually the entire complement of the shops stock of cooking oil. His full shopping trolley had nothing else other than cooking oil, I estimated that he had about 40 bottles. I asked him what he was doing. He told me he was using the cooking oil to make diesel and was somewhat proud of the fact. I told him in no uncertain terms that this was for cooking. He argued back saying that he had left some on the shelf. In fact he had left three bottles on the shelf. One of which I bought. As it was still early evening, it was clearly going to be tough luck for anyone else coming into the store.

The supermarket in question clearly had no policy on preventing single customers bulk buying and the cashier took his money without question.

I do not believe that I have witnessed the only incident of this kind in the country, and suspect that it is frequently happening elsewhere in the country.

Given your organisation's inability to define a remit for a sustainablity study, I would be interested in your position on customers buying large quantities of cooking oil for subsequent home conversion into biofuel and depriving the other customers (like me) of essential ingredients and wonder if this could be incorporated into any study that you ultimately commission.

Kevin Lister
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