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Fresh air for creation: recycling used cooking oil

The Office for Pastoral Care of the Environment of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima Parish in Apucarana, Brazil, is promoting campaigns to collect and give properly recycle electronic waste and used cooking oil. "God has entrusted us with the task of cultivating and caring for creation. The actions we take are intended to help the community reflect on this," explains Amauri Henrique Rosina, a Laudato si' Animator who coordinates the recycling collection.

Andressa Collet - Vatican News

The community of Apucarana, in the northern part of the State of Paraná, Brazil, has found an ally to better manage the 'disposable' materials produced in homes by carrying out annual collections of recycled waste. The Office for the Pastoral Care of the Environment of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima Parish is carrying out this project. It is a great concern for the "Upper City", as Apucarana is known, 370 km from the capital Curitiba. It is a watershed between three basins: the Pirapó River, which feeds the locality; the Tibagi River and the Ivaí River.

Volunteers go around the neighborhoods collecting both electronic waste and used cooking oil. The initiative is part of a series of activities by the local church to respond to Pope Francis' call to care for our common home, as written in his encyclical Laudato si'.

Included in what the Pope calls a "network of solidarity and belonging" (Laudato sì, 148), Amauri Henrique Rosina is the pastoral coordinator of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima Parish and a Laudato si' Animator of the World Catholic Climate Movement. He leads the campaign's work in the city to put into practice the Pope's call to transform the environment in which one lives, “alleviating the adverse effects of their surroundings and learning to orient their lives amid disorder and uncertainty” (Laudato sì, 148).

Used cooking oil is sent to a specialized company
Used cooking oil is sent to a specialized company

Collecting used cooking oil

In September 2020, for example, the community was asked to properly separate and dispose of used cooking oil in PET bottles or other well-sealed containers. More than 1,000 liters were collected, avoiding the contamination of 1 billion liters of water. The improper disposal of this type of oil, widely used for domestic purposes in bars and restaurants, can cause serious damage to the environment. Experts advise not to dispose of the product in home sinks, drains or gutters because, in addition to damaging the plumbing in homes, it spills into rivers and soil, contaminating the environment.

Already in the 2019 campaign, volunteers had noticed that "people had a lot of used oil and did not know what to do with it. We saw that the containers were dirty and dusty, stored for six months to a year, and people said they did not know how to dispose of them. In the community, we are now creating a habit for recycling by sharing knowledge, because it is a highly polluting and toxic product," explains Amauri.

The community participates every year in the collection of used oil
The community participates every year in the collection of used oil

The collected liters of oil are always sent to an authorized company that filters it and sends it to a soap factory in town. Along with the oil collection, dozens of seedlings were distributed as part of the project, "Want clean air? Plant a tree," as well as the installation of 16 signs advising people not to dispose of trash in inappropriate places. "God has entrusted us with the task of cultivating and caring for his creation. The actions we take are meant to make the community think," adds the Laudato si' Animator.

Electronic waste collection campaign

The Apucarana community also participates in the annual e-waste collection. Brazil ranks fifth in the world and first in Latin America for e-waste production, according to data from the 2019 report The Global E-Waste Monitor, conducted by the United Nations in collaboration with various other international organizations.

Volunteers from a cooperative collect waste in neighborhoods
Volunteers from a cooperative collect waste in neighborhoods

Using trucks, volunteers from the Office for the Pastoral Care of the Environment and employees of COCAP (Cooperative of Collection of Apucarana) go around neighborhoods to collect small and medium-sized electrical and electronic products that are no longer working or are unused: old televisions, washing machines, ovens and computer parts. According to experts, equipment that contains materials such as plastic, glass and metal can be recycled and must be disposed of properly by specific companies to reduce damage to the environment.

According to Amauri, "the success of this work is due to the trust that the community places in the Office for the Pastoral Care of the Environment, on a path of ecological conversion, as suggested by Pope Francis in Laudato si', the encyclical on care of our common home, which is our planet." The coordinator explains that the volunteers have decided to work "from the inside out because it makes no sense to wish to save the world and not take practical actions in our home and our family. We try to change habits, to recycle and also encourage a decrease in the use of materials to reduce household waste. It is a great harmony we are seeking: we need to start from the inside."

Amauri and volunteers from the Apucarana community
Amauri and volunteers from the Apucarana community
06 July 2021, 08:30