Turning Your Grease into Green: How to Profit from Being in a FOG

Within the restaurant industry, disposing of grease, oil and fat in a sustainable way can be a challenge; it can get messy, expensive and could lead to fines and legal troubles if not dealt with properly. A fat, oil and grease (FOG) program will reduce the amount of grease discharged to the wastewater collection system, as well as reduce maintenance costs. FOG programs not only help restaurants, grocery stores or distribution centers dispose of grease in a safe, sustainable way – they also generate income from rebates by implementing this safe disposal system.

Grease is changing. Now, restaurants have the power to participate in the circular economy, turning their used grease into useful materials for other businesses. This creates a sustainable option for restaurants because they’re improving kitchen practices to reduce the amount of grease they produce while maximizing potential with the residual byproduct.

Setting up a FOG program

Various grease separation devices can be used in the food service industry. The most common devices are manual grease traps, automatic grease traps and grease interceptors. No matter which device a restaurant chooses to install, the right mix should be incorporated in each FOG producing area.

Through a FOG program, restaurants can convert their grease into useful materials. For example, yellow grease can be resold and combined to make animal feed, fatty acids to create plastics, textiles or cosmetics, soap, lubricants or biodiesel. These are sustainable options that allow restaurants to lessen their waste footprint. According to the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standards Program Regulatory Impact Analysis, biodiesel produced from waste grease results in an 86 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.

Here are a few best practices for getting the most cost savings out of your FOG program:

  • Properly train employees to dispose of solidified grease into a designated container for disposal into a grease dumpster for recycling.
  • Direct all drains from FOG producing sources to a properly sized grease interceptor.
  • Don’t dispose of food waste in a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals contribute to FOG in a municipal sewer line causing blockages while using an excessive amount of water.
  • Post “No Grease” signs above sinks.
  • And more

FOG programs will vary depending on your restaurant, and are also tailored by region and municipality. Some municipalities require FOG programs to be approved by the City Attorney before any implementation can occur. A managed waste and recycling company can help you navigate all the specific laws and regulations in your area of operation and reduce your exposure to improper handling.

Turning your grease into green

Setting up a FOG program for restaurants with locations across multiple regions can get complicated. In some cases, restaurants that manage their own FOG programs miss significant opportunities for income and rebates because they’re unaware of the value or they don’t leverage all the potential interested sources of recovery and disposal.

NWA eliminates all the hassles of managing FOG programs. Since NWA is on site managing waste and recycling solutions it’s simple to incorporate grease recovery with your core waste program. NWA manages the vendor selection to get the best rebates and consolidates all the activities into one clean invoice and you receive the rebate; it’s that simple.

How FOG programs can make a difference – a real example

NWA successfully provided managed waste and recycling services for a portfolio of 125 restaurants. Based on the success of the core program NWA was asked to take over and develop a more robust FOG program for brown and yellow grease. Over a three-year period, in addition to right-sizing service and reducing cost, NWA recovered 593,840 lbs. of yellow grease alone, generating 79,179 gallons of biofuel. Although the market price for yellow grease varies based on the commodity price of crude oil, the program generated rebates in excess of $100,000 during the three-year period. And, by recovering the 593,840 lbs. of yellow grease for biofuel conversion, our client eliminated 1,391,034.6 lbs. of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.

Key Takeaways

Any restaurant, food distribution center or grocery store has the opportunity to adopt a FOG program into their managed waste strategy. Doing so not only makes the way you recover and dispose of grease more sustainable, but your business can generate income from what was previously a disposal cost. Whether it’s earning a rebate or reducing plumbing and operating expenses – your grease has money-earning potential.

NWA has successfully managed FOG programs that lead to huge cost savings and money-making opportunities. To learn more about your rebate opportunity and how you can start changing waste for good, contact our experts.