by Kimberley Graham, Ambassador of Green Restoration
Green Restoration has recently transitioned the entire car fleet to operate completely on biofuels. This equates to a saving of approximately 36 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Our decision to use biofuels is in line with our commitment to ensure that our business does not cause unnecessary harm to human health while also ensuring a positive impact on the environment.
Many people are unaware that the transport sector is a major contributor to negative impacts on human health, particularly in large cities. The World Health Organisation estimates that respiratory problems due to poor air quality are the cause of approximately 7 million deaths each year. High pollution levels from local transport not only contribute to poor public health in the short-term, but they also emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to a deterioration of the ozone layer, as well as other environmental problems such as the sea-level rise and increasing global temperatures in the long term.
Globally, the transport sector contributes approximately 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions annually. This makes it the fourth-largest emitter globally, behind manufacturing at 21%, agriculture at 24%, and electricity generation at 25% of global carbon emissions.
Although sales of more efficient vehicles, such as battery-operated vehicles, are on the rise, it’s not enough to reduce the ‘smog cloud’ that many cities endure from transport emissions. However, biofuels can help to play a role in reducing the impact of the billions of cars in the world.
For a long time, Brazil was considered the leader in biofuel production and it is still the second-largest producer of biofuels globally after the United States. The backbone of Brazil’s biofuel industry was, and still is, the conversion of waste from the sugarcane industry into sugarcane-based ethanol. This sugarcane ethanol was considered by many to be a successful alternative to petroleum-based fuels. Furthermore, the biofuel industry in Brazil traditionally saved farmers from a waste problem, which was usually dealt with by burning – a practice that resulted in significant greenhouse gas emissions. However, many critics believe that this model of biofuel production is not replicable in other countries, because few nations have a sugarcane industry comparable to the size of the industry in Brazil. Also, as biofuels became more popular, concerns arose over the vast areas of land being converted to grow crops solely for biofuel production, which is not an efficient use of the land. Besides, land conversion contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Many studies have shown that sugarcane-based ethanol in Brazil reduces greenhouse gases by 86 to 90%, but only when there has been no significant change in land use as a result of its production.
In the United States, the main crop used to produce biodiesel is maize (corn). The corn-based biofuel industry in the United States is closely related to the corn-syrup industry. Most people don’t realize that virtually every gallon of gasoline sold in the United States is blended with 10 percent ethanol. However, this is not the case in the New York State area.
So how are biofuels produced in the New York State area? And how do they help human health and the health of the planet?
One of the largest producers of biofuels in the New York State area makes a product from recycled cooking oil. They collect used oil from restaurants and through a cleaning and conversion process make a biodiesel product that is suitable for use in cars and some indoor use, such as in heaters. The best thing about converting used cooking oil to produce biodiesel is that the collection and production process is turning something that would normally go to waste into a productive and usable product. Biodiesel also reduces CO2 emissions by over 78% compared to petroleum-based fuels. This means the human health impacts are significantly reduced too. The American Lung Association considers biodiesel emissions to be 90% less toxic for humans and their wide-spread use could significantly reduce the rate of asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer. It is also cheaper than the alternative and supports local jobs. For more benefits, see the informative website dedicated to Biodiesel.
At Green Restoration, we aim to continue to support this local biofuel initiative – which is diverting a waste stream, while having an overall positive benefit for people and the planet. Feel free to get in touch with us if you are thinking of doing the same. We are happy to share our experience and answer any questions you may have regarding the performance of our fleet on biofuel.