In Cameroon, cooking oil is being made into detergent

Posted on 06 September 2018.

Bellomar has developed a unique detergent production process utilizing used cooking oil. The company is disseminating its method to encourage the development of local soap factories.

A much more effective detergent for washing clothes and dishes than most of those sold in Cameroon and a lot less harmful to human health too.

We already know that used cooking oil can be turned into biodiesel, but it can now also be utilized to make washing powder! Bellomar, a Cameroonian company that manufactures cleaning products, is behind this innovation. The company’s founder, Martial Gervais Oden Bella, had the idea when he realised that Douala’s restaurants and big hotels each threw out up to 30l of used cooking oil every week.

This is a large amount of oil, particularly as cooking oil is a highly polluting form of waste. Cooking oil does not dissolve in water and is toxic for the environment. If poured down the sink into the sewage system, it blocks pipes and reduces wastewater treatment plant capacity.

Having undertaken a significant amount of R&D, Martial Gervais Oden Bella and his teams found a way of making good use of this toxic waste - using cooking oil as a washing powder.

Mixed with palm kernel oil (not to be confused with palm oil), soda and additives, the results are very convincing. Not only is the detergent much more effective for washing clothes and dishes than most of those sold in Cameroon, it is a lot less harmful to human health too.


A free raw material

And the icing on the cake is that using a free raw material – cooking oil – enables Bellomar to reduce the production cost of its detergent. The company can therefore sell its product at a price that is almost half the cost of the market product.

The company uses this argument to convince its clients about the benefits of the circular economy and to encourage them to recover their waste.

Bellomar is keen to share its know-how and has disseminated its production method. Martial Gervais Oden Bella sees it as a way for the most deprived people to make this hygiene product which they are not always able to afford, and the opportunity for the most ambitious people to set up their own soap factories.

Bellomar’s cooking oil detergent has enabled the company to kill three birds with one stone: the company is conserving the environment, while developing access to hygiene products and the local economy.

In line with its ethos of sharing, in January 2018 the company launched its own e-learning website on which learners can watch online courses about making hygiene and cleaning products and about recovering waste. The future looks promising for the circular economy in Africa!