Plenus Co., Ltd., which operates Japan's nationwide take-out bento chain Hokka Hokka Tei (a.k.a. Hokka Hokka Bento, or Hokka-ben) and Yayoiken restaurants, has unveiled plans to begin recycling the used cooking oil from its 2,400 branches into fuel for its delivery vehicles. According to the plan slated for launch in January 2007, the company will establish 6 refining facilities in 3 years with the capability of producing 3.3 million liters (870,000 gallons) of fuel from 3.7 million liters (975,000 gallons) of used cooking oil -- enough to fuel its entire fleet of delivery vehicles, Plenus claims.

Discarded cooking oil makes for a viable alternative to diesel once it is mixed with methanol and refined into biodiesel. After the refining process, the fuel will be supplied to the company's 300 diesel delivery trucks through a network of independent filling stations.

Plenus will establish the initial refinery base in Fukuoka in January 2007 with 130 million yen (US$1.1 million) in capital. Subsequent refineries will be established in Saitama, Yamanashi and Miyagi prefectures, and in Hokkaido and Osaka. The company hopes to establish an efficient fuel supply system and cut overall fuel costs.

[Source: Nikkei Net]