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Recycling Used Cooking Oil and Grease

Updated on October 23, 2012
I took a tour of the BRB facility.  I will never think of my cooking oil the same way again.
I took a tour of the BRB facility. I will never think of my cooking oil the same way again. | Source

What To Do With Used Cooking Oil

If you have ever wondered what to do with your used cooking oil, you can wonder no more: recycle it to make biodiesel. Did you know that you're not supposed to pour it down the drain? What if you could really help your local community with jobs and cleaning the air? You can!

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Blue Ridge Biofuels in Asheville, NC. I was interested in touring the organization because I definitely try to live as sustainably as I can. I saw this as one more opportunity to make a difference in creating a cleaner planet.

Blue Ridge Biofuels (BRB), Green Opportunities, and Metropolitan Sewage District of Buncombe County are three organizations that have come together to create a pilot program that allows citizens to recycle their cooking oil.

© C. Calhoun 2012. All rights reserved.

Cooking Oil Recycling

The idea was born from a need for biodiesel. When BRB found an opportunity for a grant to launch a program to make it easy to recycle cooking oil, they jumped.

With the grant secured, the Cooking Oil Recycling Program began in July of 2011. It will continue through July of 2012. BRB is hoping that the program will have enough momentum and publicity to sustain itself once the grant period ends.

They are in the business of creating biofuel and this was another opportunity to secure a source to help them make biodiesel - for so many positive reasons.

Recycling your cooking oil allows companies like Blue Ridge Biofuels to produce biodiesel.  They have an "on-road" blend and an "off-road" blend - depending on the type of vehicle you have.
Recycling your cooking oil allows companies like Blue Ridge Biofuels to produce biodiesel. They have an "on-road" blend and an "off-road" blend - depending on the type of vehicle you have. | Source

Used Cooking Oil Facts

Every year, the average person uses about 66 gallons of cooking oil. Multiply that by the hundreds of millions of people who live in the United States, and you’ve got a staggering amount of cooking oil consumed - and then disposed - in this country.

A lot of that oil goes down the drain. Many consumers don’t know that they should never pour cooking oil down the drain.

In the city, it builds up in pipes and can cause blockages. These blockages force cities across the US to spend thousands of dollars, often hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, to fix these clogged pipes. That’s a lot of money that could be used for many other useful projects.

If you have a septic tank, too much oil down the train can cause the tank to back up. The pipes in your home may also become blocked – costing hundreds of dollars in repairs.

The city of Asheville, NC had to spend $200,000 recently to clear out clogged pipes due to oil build up.

Putting cooking oil into the trash isn’t really the answer, either. It goes to the landfill where it will never be used as a valuable energy resource.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
When you recycle your cooking oil in western NC, it will go to this holding tank with a capacity of 10,000 gallons.  It is located in the River Arts District of Asheville, hence the colorful graffiti.From the holding tank, it will react with different chemicals to become biodiesel.Biodiesel waiting to be sold to the community.
When you recycle your cooking oil in western NC, it will go to this holding tank with a capacity of 10,000 gallons.  It is located in the River Arts District of Asheville, hence the colorful graffiti.
When you recycle your cooking oil in western NC, it will go to this holding tank with a capacity of 10,000 gallons. It is located in the River Arts District of Asheville, hence the colorful graffiti. | Source
From the holding tank, it will react with different chemicals to become biodiesel.
From the holding tank, it will react with different chemicals to become biodiesel. | Source
Biodiesel waiting to be sold to the community.
Biodiesel waiting to be sold to the community. | Source

Don't Dispose Cooking Oil - Recycle Instead!

What’s a person to do?

You can recycle that oil!

The next time you cook a meal and you have left over oil – whether it’s from cooking bacon, pork, or with any type of vegetable oil, you can pour it into a reusable container such as a jar or coffee can. Just be sure the oil is cool before you pour it into your container. Also, solid fats like shortening are not recyclable. Be sure to never mix motor oil in with the vegetable oil.

If you live in Western North Carolina, you can use the Cooking Oil Recycling Program, or COR. It is the only program of its kind in the US so far.

The COR program has over 16 oil recycling bins dispersed throughout the Asheville area and surrounding communities. BRB is working to add more cooking oil recycling stations.

Currently, COR collects about 400 gallons of used cooking oil monthly from these stations. They have their own built-in filters that keep out food and other items that need to be removed from the oil.

When your jar or coffee can is full of used oil, you just take the container to the oil recycling bin nearest you, and pour it in.

Filters in the bins help separate oil from food matter. You can reuse your container again, or even recycle that.

Will You Recycle Your Cooking Oil

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What Happens After You Recycle Cooking Oil?

From there, Blue Ridge Biofuels collects the oil in their diesel trucks. The oil then goes into their large-capacity holding tank.

In the picture, the holding tank is quite colorful. The company is located in one of the most "creative" parts of Asheville: The River Arts District. Many old warehouse buildings have found new life housing artists, restaurants and businesses.

Why recycle oil? Why Not Just Throw It Away?

First, it helps keep otherwise incredibly useful oil out of the landfills – freeing up space and resources.

Second, it supports the local economy. Because the oil comes from local sources, it won’t have to travel far, which helps keep the expense down. The used cooking oil also supports local businesses: BRB can pay restaurants and businesses for their used cooking oil and then make biodiesel. It's a cyclical process.

Third, it is much cleaner than petroleum-based diesel. Some estimates are that it reduces emissions by 78% as compared to regular petroleum-based diesel.

Fourth, it helps to create jobs in the local economy. Blue Ridge Biofuels has had to hire more and more people due to an increase in demand for biodiesel that came, in part, from community members who recycled their cooking oil.

Fifth, it reduces US dependence on petroleum – from foreign and domestic sources. Just think: with biodiesel, we would worry less about petroleum oil spills out at sea. Local economies can flourish with innovations in green technologies that use renewable resources directly from the community and then put those resources right back in.

Find a Cooking Oil Recycling Center in Your Area

Though the COR program in Asheville is unique, you may be able to recycle used cooking oil in your area. It may involve you taking the oil to a recycling center or hazardous waste facility. You often have to label the container it's in, too, so be sure to check. Check Earth911.com to see what you can do in your area.

Or, if you don't have the time/resources to take cooking oil and you have a diesel car, you can use your vegetable oil to make some biodiesel of your own. Poshcoffeeco teaches you how in his hub.

Still, if you can help your community, be sure to recycle, and help green businesses grow.

Also, a special thank you goes out to Kymber of Blue Ridge Biofuels who provided me with much of the information in this hub.

Some Cooking Oil Recycling Stations in Western NC

show route and directions
A markerRiver District Recycling Center 1 Roberts St. 28801 -
1 Roberts St, Asheville, NC 28801, USA
get directions

B markerNorth Asheville Recycling Center 675 Merrimon Ave. 28804 -
Asheville, NC 28804, USA
get directions

C markerBuncombe County Landfill 81 Panther Branch Rd. Alexander, NC 28701 -
Buncombe County Landfill, 85 Panther Branch Rd, Alexander, NC 28701, USA
get directions

D markerHenderson County Landfill 806 Stoney Mountain Rd. Hendersonville, NC 28791 -
Henderson County Landfill, 806 Stoney Mountain Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28791, USA
get directions

E markerMadison County Landfill 271 Craig Rudisill Rd. Marshall, NC 28753 -
Madison County Landfill, 271 Craig Rudisill Rd, Marshall, NC 28753, USA
get directions

F markerMarshall Recycling Center Hwy 25/70 Marshall, NC 28753 -
Marshall, NC 28753, USA
get directions

G markerDry County Brewing Co. 585 Oak Ave. Spruce Pine, NC 28777 -
585 Oak Ave, Spruce Pine, NC 28777, USA
get directions

H markerSelf-Help Credit Union 1911 Hendersonville Rd. Asheville, NC 28803 -
1911 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803, USA
get directions

I markerWest Village Market 771 Haywood Rd. Asheville,NC 28806 -
771 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806, USA
get directions

J markerTrout Lily Market 1297 Charlotte Hwy Fairview, NC 28730 -
1297 Charlotte Hwy, Fairview, NC 28730, USA
get directions

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    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      The school where I work has a similar program in place. A company hauls away the grease from the ding hall and campus inn and takes it to someplace where it's made usable. Great hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      TCC - that's great news! I understand that there are lots of similar programs in place to convert used cooking oil to usable resources. Hopefully, there will also be more like the COR program where residents can just take it to a nearby station and easily pour it in. :) Thanks so much for stopping by and for your feedback. (HUGS)

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Ha! The ~dining~ hall, not the ding hall. Ooops!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I didn't know that you could recyle cooking oil. It does make sense to do so instead of pouring down the drain. I never dispose of oil down the drain for the reasons you mention: it clogs them badly. I will have to see how this is handled in our area. Interesting hub and of great use to society in general. Voted up!

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, great hub and great ideas... I already recycle cooking oil... great advice about waiting for it to cool, I sometimes forget that one. Anyway this is a very interesting subject and if we let people know how they can recycle and the programs that exist I'm sure more people will start doing it and our environment thanks us... Voted up, useful and sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, TCC, "ding" hall. Hahah. You crack me up. :D

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Teaches - hello!! It's good to hear you don't pour it down the drain. :) I'm just so psyched that you came by again. I really enjoy your comments and insights and feel so lucky to have someone who reads my hubs as you do. I feel so honored. :) Thank you for the votes and feedback. I *truly* appreciate it. (HUGS)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      algarveview - that's really cool you ALREADY recycle cooking oil. Before hearing about this program, I didn't. I definitely want to get the word out because we can all make a true difference with this. Thank you for the votes, for stopping by and for your feedback. :) Cheers!

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Nice hub yet again Cyndi,

      Where do you get this design template from. I have seen a few different ones than the standard HP layout. It looks fab. Please let me know.

      vote up/interesting

      #

      Tweeted Pinned G+ FB

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Steve - hey, friend! :) Thanks for all those shares! :) The template - it has to do with the category I put this hub in - they are experimenting with the technology category, and that's where this hub is categorized (because of how they categorize recycling). Thanks so much again and for stopping by.

    • brittanytodd profile image

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      This is such a great hub, cclitgirl! I am going to start recycling my oil; I had no idea there were so many places that accept it. Thanks, voted up, great work!

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      How interesting! I had no idea you could recycle cooking oil. I will have to check with my recycling center to see if they accept cooking oil. Thanks for the info - voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      brittanytodd - hey, thanks for stopping by. :) Indeed, I know lots of places TAKE cooking oil. If only we had some national program that actually had little stations for it, LOL. Thanks for your feedback. Cheers!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      alissa - Indeed, I had no idea until I researched this, just how valuable used cooking oil is! Indeed, how neat is the idea that you can just take your oil and "pour" it into a little filtering station. :) Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Useful, awesome and interesting! Glad to hear that you have something there in NC to recycle. A center would be useful here, too.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      aviannovice - hey there, thanks for coming by. :) Thanks for the votes and for your feedback. I love it that we have recycling centers to make it easy. I really think all communities need to make it easy to recycle stuff - then it would happen left and right. :) (HUGS)

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Cyndi, I've always recycled my cooking oil (plain old "reused"), but would pour it down the drain after it was too old to use anymore. It never felt quite right, but there were no recycling programs. Glad to know we can recycle just as the restaurants do. Great information you've shared with us. Every little bit helps, especially for Atlanta's aging pipes.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Cyndi - indeed, I haven't been above pouring oil down the drain in my time. But at least now, we are all finding out that innovative programs are helping many areas to get on board with reusing our resources. Thanks so much for your feedback and for stopping by. (HUGS)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great hub my friend and an important topic. You are the Queen of the Green Movement on HubPages!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Billy! Hi! I'm going to have to use that: Queen of the Green. Man, if I could change my username now! Hahaha. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      great informative hub, Cyndi.

      I agree many pipes get choked up with this oil and business for roto rooters booms...lol

      on a serious note...recycling is the KEY!

      great message with details on how and where one could recycle. voted up indeed as interesting

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Ruchira - hello, friend! Thanks for stopping by. Ah, yes, recycling is indeed the key. Thank you so much for your kind words and awesome feedback. I appreciate you. :) (HUGS)

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      What a unique topic! You do a great job with this. Interesting, informative, inspiring, and a bunch of other good things. ~From a bit of an eco-nut :)

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      cclitgirl, I had no idea that you recycle this oil but it's great to hear. I have a confession. I was brought up by my Mother to never pour oil down the drain. Then, I got married and my husband did it and I got a bit lax about it sometimes. I appreciate the reminder and I won't be doing that again. I will have to check to see if they have a program in our area. Great hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Dana - Thanks so much for your input and feedback. :) Hehe, I love meeting other eco-nuts. :D I aim to save this planet, one hub, blog and video at a time. :D Hubhugs.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      prairieprincess - happy birthday! (I know it was yesterday, but I just wanted to share a little more Hublove. :) Thanks for coming by. Sometimes, even the most scrupulous eco-nuts and conservers can let up a bit - we're all human. Don't feel bad - it's just all in the reminders and awareness to help us all become better people each day. :) Thanks so much for stopping by. Hubhugs!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      A belated Happy Birthday to you also. This disposal of cooking oil is a great idea. I don't know if we have a place in Jacksonville, but I will check it out. I have heard of people using cooking oils in different places before, but you put all the information together nicely in this hub.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Pamela99 - aw, thank you so much for stopping by. :) Until I interviewed this company, I had no idea just HOW useful it is. It's amazing how, if you put your mind to it, you can do amazing things for not much at all. :) Hubhugs!

    • profile image

      HowToStore 5 years ago

      Really informative hub!!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Thanks for stopping by, HowToStore. :) I'm glad you found this informative.

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 5 years ago

      Wow, recycling cooking oil is a fantastic idea, I didn't know we could do that yet! Glad you made me aware of it, cheers :)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Redberry - hi there. Yeah, I didn't know you could do it until I researched used cooking oil for this hub. It's a really neat program we have here. Thanks for coming by. Cheers back!

    • profile image

      grease containers 4 years ago

      It's a really neat program we have here. Thanks for coming by. Cheers back!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Grease Containers - It was SO fun to see Blue Ridge Biofuels. It's a special place! ;)

    • profile image

      Davidrichard2 4 years ago

      I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are

      doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this

      is working for you as well.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Davidrichard - indeed, I hope so. I love giving back to the community. :)

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