Cookers Bulk Oil is helping the food services sector transition to a circular economy through a business model centred on managing the entire life of oil and traceability.
Traceability is a prominent concept across the waste and resource recovery sector as multiple players in the supply chain are tasked with looking after the movement of waste.
The same concept is just as important in Australia’s food sector with certifications that ensure products and services gain a tick of approval for best practice. Minimising environmental risks is central to providing customers with such a service.
With tens of thousands of eating establishments throughout Australia – all of which use cooking oil of one form or another – it is an issue that bulk oil specialist Cookers Bulk knows all too well.
When it comes to sustainability, traceability and how vegetable oil can affect its surrounds, the company has processes in place aimed at keeping the environment free from any negative outcomes caused by vegetable oils.
National quality and safety manager for the company Hari Srinivas says product traceability is a universally applicable concept.
He says this is why Cookers has rigid standards when it comes to sourcing its vegetable oil supplies.
“To deal with Cookers you need to be an approved supplier, which means we look and see what sort of practices and standards you are following,” Hari explains.
“Suppliers need to meet minimum standards and it means we don’t go to any supplier who hasn’t got a certification/traceability system in place that is not internationally recognised.”
He cites the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) a private organisation established and managed by the Consumer Goods Forum in Belgium. It maintains a scheme to benchmark food safety standards for manufacturers.
Certification can be achieved through a successful third-party audit by schemes recognised by the GFSI including the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8, IFS Food Version 6 and SQF Safe Quality Food Code 8th Edition, to name a few.
“Without those types of certification we don’t even entertain any supplier,” Hari says.
“We are stringent with our suppliers. If you look into the way the industry is going now, the majority of the supply chains are going through some sort of certification system, including HACCP. These sorts of certifications are one of the core fundamentals of traceability.”
Hari says he is proud that the company has yet to have any of its products recalled. He puts it down to not only the standards it sets, but also compliant suppliers, and their own end-users as well.
Every year, Cookers performs an exercise where they have a mock recall, which involves checking its suppliers’ traceability to make sure they have the correct systems in place and that they are working. This is because he knows that if there ever is a recall, they need to know where every drop of oil they have distributed has ended up.
The good news for end-users is that if that does happen, Cookers will be able to trace the batch number and know where the offending product
is very quickly through its centralised system.
Traceability is also key when it comes to dealing with customers in case things go wrong once the oil has been distributed. Cookers make sure its customers also comply with standards and regulations, too as it’s important the company ensures its customers are getting the product they paid for, according to specifications.
“We are audited every year, and our auditor reviews how long it takes to check something and what is the level of accuracy of our traceability,” Hari says.
“If we have an issue, we can compare it with the same batch delivered nationally to different customers. We can get a sample and test it with the same batches from other customers.”
Cookers’ circular economy solution ensures that the customers who procure its fresh oil are also its used oil collection customers.
Within this setup, Cookers also run a fleet of vehicles, including stainless steel trucks delivering fresh cooking oil and blue vehicles picking up the used product.
Not only do they pick it up, but the company provides storage equipment used on-site by the customer and facilitates the management of the entire life of the oil.
“Once they use the oil, we provide the equipment to transfer the used oil product into our blue tankers, which collect it at regular intervals,” Hari says.
“We get the oil back and we have got mechanisms to handle the oil in such a way it can go into biodiesel production.
“It means that with every drop of oil we sell, we make sure not a single drop goes into the drain.”
Taking this a step further, Cookers can measure the amount of oil collected and ensure it is the same as that delivered.
“We do all the calculations, so if there are any big variations we will go and speak to the customer to see if there is anything wrong and find out whether we can help with oil management.”
He says another reason to use a company like Cookers Bulk Oil is that due to its tanker delivery method, no empty oil tins head to local landfill. If a customer needed 100 litres of oil per week, that would usually consist of five 20-litre drums which may end up in landfill. With Cookers’ tankers, the drums are redundant.
Importantly, Hari says most of the oil is Australian sourced and more than 90 per cent refined locally.
“For example, the canola oil we sell is 100 per cent Australian.
“Other oils, depending on the cropping situation, are imported in crude form from reputable suppliers who have proper certifications in place – usually from Argentina and European countries.”