Used oil and grease from cooking is a real nuisance that is hard to deal with.
We keep it out of the drain to avoid clogging the pipes and minimize septic system grief, but broken grease containers and leaking trash bags result in hard-to-clean spills. Oil and grease don’t go well with our backyard composting either.
Now, imagine how messy the problem gets when you are cooking for hundreds, or even thousands of people every day at a restaurant or cafeteria. Hundreds of gallons of this waste can accumulate within a week.
Yes, the proverb applies; believe it or not, one person’s trash is someone else’s treasure. Biofuel processors love used kitchen oil and grease so much that they take it for free.
Using vegetable oil for fuel is not a new idea. Peanut oil fueled the first motor from Rudolf Diesel on Aug. 10, 1893. Due to large supply and low cost production, petroleum-based diesel came into dominant use through the 21st century. Today, the dwindling supply of petroleum is driving up the cost. As costs continue to climb for petroleum diesel, the economics become more favorable to processing biofuels. This creates a sustainable business model that benefits both sides of the process, the supply and the demand.
At the back door of cafeterias and restaurants there is a substantial supply of used vegetable oil and grease. Demand now exists for this waste with technology and processing capabilities that see it as raw material. Oil and grease from kitchens can be processed into fuel called biodiesel.
The biodiesel industry has been aggressively expanding for several years. Locally, a company in Center Moriches called Island Biofuel serves all of eastern Long Island, succeeding in its mission to increase availability of renewable energy.
Island Biofuel offers a turnkey service that starts when the kitchen signs up. The process begins with provision of a barrel or tank to collect the waste oil and grease. A weekly pick up is typical to ensure that containers don’t get overfilled and become unsightly. The grease is transported by truck to the local processing plant where it is transformed into yellow grease. Yellow grease is shipped for further refining and blending to make biofuel blends that can be used in trucks and other diesel engines. A typical mixture of B-20 consists of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. B-20 can be readily used in commercial vehicles.
Large-scale cooking facilities are just now learning about this service. Facilities that discard significant quantities of grease include hospitals, school districts, colleges, pastry bakers, pasta manufacturers and restaurants.
Not only do companies like Island Biofuel and their customers benefit from the service, but so does the community. First, Long Islanders are employed at every step of the process, from transport to plant operation. Another benefit is diverting waste oil and grease from our trash. Finally, biodiesel is a renewable fuel that is a preferred alternative over petroleum diesel.
Be sure to check at your local eateries and cafeterias to see if they are paying for disposal of their grease. If they are still disposing of waste oil and grease, then an intervention is suggested. Help lead them to a better solution and inform the process manager that the waste can likely be used as feedstock for biodiesel. Biodiesel from waste oil is another technology that is making the world better with another Sustainability Solution.