Portland restaurants are required to have items within their kitchen areas that prevent fats, oil, and grease (FOG) out of the sewer lines. When FOG is poured down a drain, they cling to the sides of pipes, which creates blockages that cause wastewater to back up into homes and businesses. If your restaurant is responsible for a FOG blockage, you face steep fines and plenty of negative publicity.
The Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code mandates that a new restaurant has grease traps installed before opening. This includes restaurants that are brand new builds, kitchen remodels, or changing hands.
You cannot pour FOG down the drain, and you are required to have your grease trap cleaned and maintained regularly. When you serve fried foods or use a lot of cooking oil in your restaurant, how do you dispose of it?
Do Not Pour It Into the Trash
Make sure used cooking oil is not going into your trash. While it may seem easiest, oil saturates the ground and can do more harm than good. You may see guidelines saying that used cooking oil can be put into sealed bags and moved to the trash, but that’s meant for small households, not full restaurants.
Make sure you’re responsibly recycling oil. It’s good for the environment, and there’s money to be found in used cooking oil. Companies looking to buy used oil to convert it into biodiesel. You could get discounted repairs and grease trap cleanings.
Pour Used Cooking Oil Into Sealable Containers
A good rule of thumb is that the oil in deep fryers can be reused every six to eight uses. Restaurants may need to change their oil every couple of days, which means you’ll be recycling a lot of used oil. You’ll be moving cool oil to sealed containers, and those containers are usually located outside or near the exit door for easy access.
Once the used cooking oil is in sealed containers, such as 5-gallon pails or the cubes the oil comes in. Once it’s full, bring it to your oil storage container, if you have one. If not, you’re going to have several pails stacked up. When stored outside, oil containers need to be placed far away from storm drains or sewer lines.
There are other benefits to storing your restaurant’s cooking oil inside. It prevents theft and keeps animals from trying to break in. If you’re worried about having oil recycling professionals coming into your restaurant during busy kitchen hours, know that you can arrange to have the collection take place outside of your busy hours.
If a container manages to tip over and break open in your kitchen or outside, you do not want the oil to end up in the environment. Use cat litter, flour, sawdust, or absorbent pads to quickly clean up spills by absorbing as much oil as possible.
The best practice is to have the used oil picked up on a regular schedule. Or, you can find the nearest recycling facility that takes large quantities of used cooking oil and bring it yourself. It’s often easier to schedule to have an oil recycling company pick it up at your restaurant.
Never Wash Items Outside
As tempting as it is to take fryers outside to clean them, that causes oil and cleaners to go into storm drains. Eventually, everything ends up in a waterway where it harms the aquatic animals. Never wash items outside. Clean everything inside in a sink or dishwasher with grease traps in place to collect any food and FOG residue.
When you do wash oily pans and fryers, use paper towels to wipe out as much residual grease as possible. Throw those out. You want traces of oil remaining when you start washing it.
Recycle Your Used Cooking Oil
It’s estimated that restaurants generate around 4.4 billion pounds of cooking oil each year. There is a lot of value in used cooking oil. An estimated $75 million worth of oil is stolen each year. Don’t let thieves take your valuable “liquid gold.” Recycle it responsibly and get some money back for your efforts.
Recycling used cooking oil creates products people rely on. Once processed, the cooking oil that’s collected from restaurants is used to create biofuel. This fuel can power diesel engines, lower greenhouse emissions (by up to 86% per BioFuels International), and reduce the demand for petroleum. U.S. laws require the addition of biodiesel in transport fuels, at a mix of up to 20%, and restaurants can help keep costs down by making sure used oil is available to biodiesel manufacturing plants.
Once used oil is picked up, it’s carefully filtered to remove any impurities like food particles and spices. The processed oil goes to a plant that specializes in the production of biodiesel. The oil is then put through a process called transesterification by mixing methanol or another short-chain alcohol and a catalyst like potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide into the oil. This turns the oil into a mixture of biodiesel and glycerin.
The biodiesel goes into storage and glycerin can go into products like soap. The actual process, catalysts, and short-chain alcohols that are used may vary, but the bottom line is that the used oil isn’t trashed. It’s reused, which reduces the demand for raw materials.
How Do You Recycle Your Restaurant’s Cooking Oil?
The easiest way to recycle cooking oil is by working with a recycling partner. When you schedule routine grease trap and drain cleaning and maintenance with Northwest Biofuel, we provide you with an appropriately sized oil recycling container for free. Place this in your kitchen or near your back door for convenient pick-up.
Our team will empty your container at no cost each week, every other week, or once a month. If your container fills up before your usual pick-up day, no worries. We’ll send a driver out to empty it within 24 hours of your call. If your bin is getting too grimy for your comfort, we’ll replace it with a clean one.
Customers who pair cooking oil recycling with grease trap cleanings receive a discount on our services. You end up getting multiple necessary services with one provider, and that saves time and money. You’re never locked into a long contract. Cancel when you want, and if you’re unhappy with our service, you don’t have to pay.
Northwest Biofuel provides 24/7 emergency service, and we do everything possible to get to your restaurant within an hour of your call. Don’t dispose of your used cooking oil illegally and face expensive fines. Talk to us about our free cooking oil pick-up service in Portland, Oregon, and its metropolitan area, and put your used oil to good use as environmentally-friendly biodiesel.