Ever been waiting for your fast food order to be prepared and see all those fryers lined up cooking fries, nuggets, and more? Wonder where all that cooking oil goes when they’re done with it? One commercial fryer typically holds about 40 pounds of cooking oil that must be replaced every few days depending on the fryer and what cooks in it. That’s a lot of waste going back into the environment.
We no longer need to dispose of that used cooking oil in landfills. Today, many restaurants either donate or sell their waste cooking oil to renewable energy companies. Yes, the same biofuel that we can use to power our cars and fleet vehicles!
Ok, but it sounds like a lot of work and is it really that much waste?
It’s actually really simple to collect the waste cooking oil from restaurants and convert the material into biofuel. Don Scott, Director of Sustainability with the National Biodiesel Board describes how easy the process is for restaurants to take part in this program: “When biodiesel first came on the scene, it was common practice for restaurants to pay to have their grease hauled away,” said Scott. “Today, it’s pretty standard for companies to have the used oil removed at no cost to them due to its value in renewable energy.”
According to the National Biodiesel Board, recycling restaurants’ waste cooking oil and converting it into biodiesel is currently cutting down on 1.8 billion pounds of material going into our landfills every year.
How is used cooking oil turned into biofuel?
If you want to have a random fact to file away for trivia night, the process of converting vegetable oil or animal fat is called “transesterification.” Try saying that three times fast! During transesterification, 100 pounds of oil or fat is exposed to 10 pounds of methanol and a chemical catalyst. This creates a reaction and as a result, two useable materials are produced: 100 pounds of biodiesel and 10 pounds of glycerin.
Does using biodiesel help the environment?
Yes! In 2012, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the combustion of just one gallon of petroleum-based diesel is 22.2 lbs. By using biodiesel, we can reduce those carbon dioxide emissions by up to 86%! That’s a big deal!
Is converting cooking oils to biodiesel profitable?
Absolutely! It’s not just good for the environment; it’s good for the pocketbook, too! The EPA showed that in 2012 the cost of producing one gallon of biodiesel was $2.83 and that same gallon of biodiesel sold for about $4.00 on the retail market. At a 41% profit margin, the attraction to producing and selling biodiesel should be very strong.
Want to learn more about how you can use renewable energy sources like biofuel in your daily life?
Visit us Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition today! The RVCCC works to enhance the livability and sustainability of Rogue Valley residents.