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IT’S ONE thing to cover your truck in a colourful body sticker suggestive of the environmentally conscious 1960s. It's quite another thing try to save the environment by running it on used vegetable oil. But that's Troy Hadeed's plan.

IT’S ONE thing to cover your truck in a colourful body sticker suggestive of the environmentally conscious 1960s. It’s quite another thing try to save the environment by running it on used vegetable oil. But that’s Troy Hadeed’s plan.

Hadeed’s psychedelically – coloured truck is the calling card of his new company: Ecoimpact. In partnership with TSTT’s Live Green, Live Clean campaign, Ecoimpact plans to facilitate and promote using recycled veggie oil as fuel as a way to manage the disposal of cooking oil and reduce carbon emissions in TT. TSTT has already committed to eco-friendly waste disposal by ensuring that its internal waste – batteries, paper, oils and ink toner – is safely disposed of by accredited material recyclers in accordance with international standards.  Hadeed commended TSTT for supporting Ecoimpact and others who want to ensure that TT’s modernisation takes place through sustainable, green methods. The unsafe practices of cooking oil disposal threaten that balance. “There’s no one collecting used cooking oil, and the laws about cooking oil disposal are not enforced. So it’s either frozen and thrown away, or poured down the drain,” Hadeed explained. “And that’s an environmental hazard.” According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a gallon of diesel produces 22 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. And it’s widely accepted that carbon emissions are linked to global warming. But vegetable oil is a carbon-neutral fuel, Hadeed said: it emits only as much CO2 as it absorbed while growing in the field as plants. It’s a win-win in terms of improving TT eco impact, Hadeed said.  Hadeed already owns one successful and environmentally-conscious business: Mystic Hemp sells clothes and other products made of organic ingredients like hemp. To prove that using veggie oil fuel is not some hippie fantasy, Hadeed converted his SsangYong Musso truck’s diesel engine to run on a dual tank – one for diesel, one for vegetable oil. For the last five months he’s has been driving around Trinidad fuelled by recycled oil from popcorn fryers. Since the switch, Hadeed said that there’s been no change in the vehicle’s performance, or decrease in the week and a half’s worth of mileage he’d normally get from a diesel engine. When he drove the truck back onto the lot where he purchased it two years ago, the head mechanic was amazed by how quiet the Mercedes engine was. Instead of producing clouds of familiar sooty smoke, the SsangYong Musso emits no visible exhaust.  “And when I get out of my vehicle, I smell popcorn.” Ecoimpact plans to campaign widely so that private companies like TSTT and government agencies like the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) can get on board with this eco-friendly project. “Ecoimpact offers to pickup used cooking oil from restaurants for a small fee, filter, store and make it available to those with converted engines. The veggie oil costs nearly nil compared to diesel, Hadeed said, especially if a company wants to collect their own oil and set up a filtration system. Individuals can form cooperatives where each person pays an annual fee to get access to the coop’s filtration systems and free fuel. However, converting the engine costs about TT$15,000, which may be prohibitive for individuals.  And there isn’t enough waste cooking oil produced in TT to service every single diesel engine in the country, he admitted. But companies with diesel-powered fleets could absorb the cost of the conversion and see savings in the long run. “Companies like the Public Transport Service Corporation spend thousands of dollars on diesel per week.  Economically and environmentally it’s worthwhile for them to convert.”  There’s lots of room for companies to partner with Ecoimpact. Donations of storage containers, filtration systems, hoses, advertising as well as financial support are welcomed. Each company that assists will be awarded the Ecoimpact Seal of Action, and will be listed on the company’s website so that environmentally conscious consumers can make informed choices about which companies to patronise. TSTT, Mystic Hemp, United Auto and Performance, Signwave and Ceramic T&T Limited are already sponsors. 


Michelle Felix


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