Sustainability 101

Turning Waste Oil Into Liquid Gold

Across the country, municipalities are increasingly mandating the proper disposal of used cooking oil to prevent clogs and millions of dollars worth of damage to water and sewer systems. Waste oil can solidify and cling to pipes, limit water movement, cause unsanitary backups and damage expensive equipment. In some cities, the law requires businesses to recycle used cooking oil or face fines of up to $10k.

The good news is that complying with local regulations for the proper disposal of used cooking oil is not only easy and good for your CSR reporting, but you might even get paid for it!

Many industrial kitchens and restaurants can generate 30 to 40 gallons of used cooking oil in just one month! And with the holiday season now in full swing, you can expect the amount of oil used to go up.So buildings with food service tenants or large cafeterias should take note — like many types of waste, your used cooking oil is valuable because it can be recycled.

Biodiesel pirates realized the value of waste oil early on. In 2008, they made headlines with a rash of used cooking oil thefts across the country.

Today, biofuel production has evolved into a multimillion dollar industry. Biofuels can run diesel engines and blends of alternative fuels are now sold at thousands of gas stations nationwide. Last year, an estimated 1.07 billion gallons of biodiesel, a type of biofuel, was produced in the U.S. alone.

Vehicles are frequently being retrofitted to accommodate biofuels, and there is an emerging market for vehicles that can run on both traditional as well as biofuels. In NYC, a catalyst for the increase in the collection of waste cooking oil from restaurants, cafeterias and industrial kitchens is the introduction of Local Law 43 in October 2012, which requires all heating oil sold within the city to contain at least 2% biodiesel.

As a result, many waste haulers will usually pick up your waste oil for free, and some innovative companies will even pay you for it. All you need to do is collect your waste oil in covered containers, which are often provided by the hauler or biofuel manufacturer you are working with.

Best of all, recycling used cooking oil into biofuels is good for the environment — biofuels are cleaner burning, which means less pollution. Used cooking oil can be recycled into a valuable renewable energy source that you can harness, whether or not you are required by law to do it.

Check this EPA site for waste regulations in your area, or ask your Great Forest representative if you are in compliance.

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