Turning Your Grease Into Green: How to Profit from Used Cooking Oils

For the restaurant industry, disposing of used cooking oils and trap grease can be a messy and expensive business, with the risk of fines for incorrect disposal.

Not only will a fat, oil and grease (FOG) recycling program reduce the amount of organic material discharged into the wastewater system, it will also reduce your maintenance costs and could generate significant income from rebates for your business.

Grocery stores and distribution stores can also benefit from implementing a FOG recycling program for their waste oils and greases.

Recycling these organic materials into biofuel is a perfect example of the circular economy in action, turning what was once considered a waste into a valuable resource for another industry. The EPA estimates that producing biofuel from waste grease results in an 86 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, by reducing the consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels. This makes it a great opportunity for businesses to reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint of their waste operations, while also improving profits.

How to Set up a FOG Recycling Program

There are various grease separation devices available for the food service industry:

  • The most common devices are manual grease separators, which are relatively cheap and simple to maintain, but must be regularly cleaned to manually remove the FOG.
  • Automatic grease traps mechanically separate the FOG from your wastewater, sending it to a designated container. More complex and efficient than manual separators, these are generally used by large restaurants and foodservice operations.
  • Facilities producing large volumes of FOG may also need a grease interceptor outside their kitchen that receives maintenance from a professional grease collector.

Whichever separator you use, a device should be installed at each FOG producing area in your operations, from prep, to fryers, to floor drains.

At the same time as considering your FOG recycling options, thought should also be given to how you can minimize the volume of this waste that your restaurant generates, because waste minimization is an even more sustainable methodology than recycling. This can be achieved by redesigning menus to include less greasy and fried foods wherever possible.

Here are a few best practice tips for getting the greatest cost savings out of your FOG program:

  • Properly train employees to dispose of solidified grease into a designated container so that it can be transferred to a grease dumpster for recycling.
  • Use sink and floor sink drainers.
  • Direct all drains from FOG producing sources to a properly sized grease interceptor.
  • Don’t dispose of food waste into a garbage disposal unit. Garbage disposals use an excessive amount of water, contaminate the wastewater, and can cause costly blockages. Food waste should instead be collected separately for composting.
  • Post “No Grease” signs above sinks.

FOG recycling programs will vary depending on your restaurant, and should also be tailored by region and municipality. A reputable waste and recycling management company can help you navigate all the specific laws and regulations in your areas of operation and reduce your exposure to improper handling.

National Waste Associates Can Help You Make A Profit From Your Grease, Helping To Turn Your Grease Into Green.

Many restaurant chains with locations spread across multiple regions miss out on significant income opportunities when they manage their own FOG recycling programs. Either they’re unaware of the rebate opportunities at each location, or they undervalue the waste product and so don’t leverage all of the potential opportunities for recovery and recycling.

NWA eliminates all the hassles of managing FOG recycling programs. Since NWA is on site managing waste and recycling solutions, it’s simple to incorporate grease recovery with your core waste program. NWA has an extensive number of vendors in each state and selects the right vendor for each location in order to get the greatest rebates. It then consolidates all the activities into one clean invoice and you receive the rebate; it’s that simple.

Client Success Story – Turning Used Cooking Oil into Biofuel – And a Profit!

A nationwide chain of 125 restaurants was disposing of huge quantities of used cooking oils each year. They realized that this was a potential revenue source and opportunity to ‘green’ their operations.

As they already had a successful core waste and recycling program with NWA, they asked us to help them turn this waste product into a revenue stream.

NWA developed a robust collection program to capture the yellow and brown grease produced by the restaurants (the used cooking oils and grease captured by their grease traps). Over a three-year period, NWA recovered nearly 300 tons of yellow grease, which was used to generate over 79,000 gallons of biofuel.

This generated rebates for the company in excess of $100,000, and in producing biofuel from their waste, eliminated nearly 700 tons of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of taking 137 cars off the road for a year!

Key Takeaways

Any restaurant, food distribution center or grocery store has the potential to turn their waste oils, fats and greases from a disposal cost to a revenue stream. By doing so, you’ll not only benefit from cost savings and rebate income, but you’ll also make your waste operations more sustainable, turning a waste product into a valuable feedstock for another industry.

NWA has successfully managed FOG recycling programs that have led to huge cost savings and money-making opportunities. To learn more and to see how you can start changing waste for good, contact our experts today by calling us at 1-888-692-5005 x 6 or emailing us at sales@nationalwaste.com.

© 2019 National Waste Associates