How Restaurants Dispose of Used Cooking Oil

One of the biggest environmental hazards restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, and other food service companies produce are fats, oil, and grease (FOG). When it enters a stormwater drain, it can kill aquatic animals. Within your pipes or the city’s sewers, the fat builds up leading to blockages that create sewer backups and overflows. Those issues are not only environmental hazards and costly to cities, but they’re also dangerous to people as bacteria and fecal matter back up into homes and water bodies.

What are you doing with your used cooking oils? Restaurants in violation of city regulations face fines. When a restaurant changes ownership or occupancy, a tenant improves a building, or a new restaurant is constructed, Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code requires kitchen fixtures to have grease traps. If this doesn’t apply to you, you’re still likely paying higher sewer fees to protect other ratepayers from incurring extra costs due to the high rate of FOGs from restaurants and other food service companies.

How much extra will you pay? It depends on the situation. It comes down to your net total flow vs. the amount of food waste and FOG in the wastewater coming from your business. The City of Portland offers an Extra Strength Charges worksheet you can use to get an idea of how much extra you’re paying.

Tips for Keeping FOGs From Sewers and Storm Drains

It’s time to take measures to keep FOGs from storm drains and sewers. If you put buckets of used cooking oil outside. Make sure it’s tightly sealed to prevent rainwater from getting in and to ensure it doesn’t spill out into the streets or gutters if a bucket tips over. Better yet, learn how to properly dispose of used cooking oil.

1. Properly Train Your Kitchen Staff: Train your kitchen staff to ensure they practice all of your FOG disposal guidelines. Post signs to help remind them that cooking oil never gets poured down the drain or outside in a storm drain. Make sure they’re aware of where the FOG containers are located and teach them how to clean up any spills.

2. Never Wash or Rinse Items Outside: It may seem logical to take greasy equipment outside to use a cleaning solution and break up the grease before spraying it off. Don’t do this. The grease and cleaning solution will work their way to the stormwater system where it can harm animals and fish.

3. Once Oils Are Drained Into a Container, Do a Dry Wipe: Take paper towels and wipe out remaining fats, oils, and greases from pots, baking dishes, and other kitchen items. Do not wash them in a sink without first doing a dry wipe.

4. Use and Clean Exhaust System Filters Regularly: When frying items, small particles of fat will become airborne and get drawn into the kitchen exhaust. Clean the exhaust filters regularly to prevent those fat particles from reaching the rooftop.

5. Compost All Food Scraps: In addition to saving your oils to have them recycled, compost your food scraps as meat and dairy scraps have fats in them too. Scrape food scraps from plates and cooking vessels into a bucket for composting. You can find food recycling companies that accept business food waste through Oregon Metro’s Find-A-Recycler tool.

6. Store FOG Containers Away From Storm Drains: While you can store grease containers outside, don’t put them next to storm drains or gutters and catch basins that lead to storm drains. Keep them as far away as possible. If it does leak, it has time to soak into the ground. Clean up leaks as soon as you spot them by using specialized absorbent pads and not materials like cat litter that can wash away and clog storm drains.

What Happens to Used Cooking Oil?

Once your used cooking oil is picked up for recycling, what happens next? It varies from one hauler to the next, but most recycle it for feedstock or biodiesel. Both options are used by NW Biofuel. Learn what happens next.

1. Biodiesel: Biodiesel is a sustainable fuel that can be used in place of gasoline. It starts by filtering the used cooking oil. Any remaining food particles like batter crumbs need to be removed. Once it’s filtered, the oil is allowed time to settle. After this, a process known as transesterification takes place. The filtered oil is mixed with alcohol to create a reaction that creates glycerin and biodiesel.
Once the process is completed, the glycerin is removed and used elsewhere. The biodiesel goes to stations where it can be used to fuel vehicles and machines equipped to run on biodiesel.

2. Feedstock: Biodiesel is suitable for some vehicles, but it’s not suitable for every engine. As used cooking oil biodiesel burns in an engine, there is a cloud point to consider. That cloud point is the temperature at which the biodiesel starts to form a wax that can clog fuel filters and fuel injectors.
To prevent this from happening in some engines, biodiesel is mixed with petroleum diesel. The recycled cooking oils are the biofuel feedstock used in that mix. It can be a mix of 80% petroleum to 20% biofuel feedstock to 95% petroleum to 5% biofuel feedstock.

The other benefit to using feedstock with petroleum diesel is that biodiesel often has to be stored at certain temperatures and can only be stored for so long. To extend storage times and make sure the product is usable for longer periods of time, additives are needed. Using it as feedstock eliminates this problem.

Trade Your Used Cooking Oil for Discounted Services

NW Biofuel has a way for you to save money. You need to have your grease trap and drains cleaned regularly to avoid backups and clogs. NW Biofuel will haul away your used cooking oil for free at the same time. You end up getting a substantial discount on your grease trap cleaning. All of the oil that we haul from your restaurant is credited to your bill.

Is your grease trap not working correctly? Contact us. We offer 24/7 emergency repairs and service. Our technicians strive to get to your business within an hour of your call. It’s our goal to get problems fixed quickly and correctly.

It’s a win-win situation. You’re getting the drain and grease trap cleanings you need to avoid fines from the city. And, your used cooking oil is responsibly recycled at the same time. If your FOG container is full before your next scheduled cleaning, we’ll come to get it within 24 hours.

We do not lock you into contracts, and you don’t pay if you’re not satisfied. Your complete satisfaction is important to us. Schedule drain and grease trap cleanings online or by calling us.