What is in this article?:
- SN Whole Health: Waste Cooking Oil Goes From Grease to Green
- Recycling Waste Cooking Oil
- Sidebar: Redefining 'Fat Free'
Retailers find new revenue in cooking oil reclamation
Recycling Waste Cooking Oil
Willow Tree Poultry Farm, Attleboro, Mass.-based maker of white meat chicken pies and salads, is one of many food makers that sells waste cooking oil to Lifecycle Renewables. The entire process is simple and salubrious for all involved, said Alex Cekala, controller at Willow Tree.
“In this industry, like any, it’s all about creating cost efficiencies, which goes hand-in-hand with recycling,” said Cekala. “We used to pay to have our waste cooking oil hauled off with the garbage, but now we receive around 75 cents per gallon for it and we have peace of mind knowing that it is being repurposed.”
Despite the many inherent benefits of biofuel, few retailers currently have waste cooking oil recycling programs in place. It’s not that oil reclamation is new; neither is turning the waste material into biofuel, biodiesel and other energy sources.
Rather, the alternative fuel industry is just now introducing options that make sense for supermarkets.
“Repurposing used cooking oil into fuel that produces heat and electricity is a relatively new use,” Gaunt said. “Making this possible has required making modifications to equipment. There also had to be enough people interested in not just blending the refined oil into biodiesel to produce petroleum, but to be used as a sole fuel source to power entire facilities.”
Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Wooster, Ohio, uses reclaimed cooking oil or “greasel,” as its staff affectionately calls it, to power two company vehicles, a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI and a semi-truck.
Buehler’s website lists several benefits of using “greasel” in place of diesel. It gets the same MPG as regular fuel, it’s less costly than refining biodiesel and it possesses lubricating properties that actually increases engine life.
“Biodiesel entails chemically altering the oil whereas biofuel only requires a simple cleansing process,” said Gaunt. “It is recognized by the EPA as a greener fuel because it takes a fraction of the energy to produce biofuel.
“And, because we use less BTUs in the process of making biofuel, we can produce it for less money, and therefore we can put more of the money back into the hands of those producing oil by paying them more for their waste oil up front.”
For supermarkets with large food-making facilities, like Whole Foods, there are additional options available. The same biofuel that is used to create heat and electricity can also be used in backup generators in the event of a power outage. This, added Gaunt, is an invaluable layer or protection for a business with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food in coolers and freezers.