Worldwide, we use a lot of oil in our cooking. Each year, thousands of tons of vegetable oil are used in dressings, fryers, pastas, cookies and cakes, and in a hundred other things in restaurant kitchens. It adds up - and it all needs to be disposed of.
Traditionally, cooking oils were recycled in one way or another. Lard and animal fats were re-used for cooking or in the production of other, non-culinary items, like soap and medicinal balms. Vegetable oils were re-used, added to batters and baked goods, or put into the garden and ground.
The huge scale of the restaurant and food industry today represents a situation that is a far cry from these small-scale, traditional approaches to used cooking oil. Nowadays, kitchens throughout the world collectively go through massive quantities of oil. As individuals place greater importance on sustainability and integrating recycling practices into their life, they shouldn’t ignore the implications of their dining-out habits, and neither should restaurateurs - meaning used cooking oil recycling is all the more important.
We’ve all fretted about a bit of oil we’ve seen go down the drain in our kitchen at home, but usually this doesn’t present any problems. Things get more severe when the quantities increase. Excessive dumped oil can clog entire drainage and sewage systems, leading to serious problems with water supply and waste outflow. Dumping is simply not a solution, but cost and disposal difficulties have led some to use it as one.
Food is energy. As it works its way from the sun through plants and then onto our plates, it does not disappear after we’re done eating - nor does the energy in the used oil no longer fit for the fryer. The biodiesel industry and research surrounding the application of used cooking oils for renewable fuel sources have made great advances in the past years. The environmental benefits are many. Recycled cooking oil doesn’t just mean we can move and drive consuming fewer fossil fuels - it also means a tremendous amount of food energy is maximized and put to use, rather than just dumped down the train or thrown out with the trash.
Restaurant managers are busy people with a lot to take care of. Oil and trash disposal are not things they want to spend a great deal of time worrying about. Cooking oil recycling offers them a means of solving this problem. Recycling their kitchen’s used oil means no potential for clogged drains, and a working relationship with a service dedicated to efficiently handling the used grease, removing the burden from the restaurateur’s shoulders. One more plus: a lighter conscience knowing that their business integrates this exciting new form of sustainability into its operations.
Biodiesels haven’t quite replaced fossil fuels and other energy sources on a large scale, but they are making process. The industry is expanding, and bringing along with it new jobs, new companies, and exciting possibilities everywhere in the world. Recycling is tremendously important for combating environmental damage - but it also brings great benefit along with it, both to the natural world and to the economy.
For all these reasons, we think recycling cooking oil is a fantastic choice, and we recommend it to all restaurateurs and industry professionals with lots of used oil and full grease bins on their hands.