Can I donate or sell my used cooking oil rather than pay for carting?
– Restaurant Manager, New York, NY
Yes. Depending on your volume and location (which should be convenient for most carters since you are in New York City), you can likely get free pickup of used cooking oil (called “yellow grease”) and may even be able to sell it as small but welcome additional revenue.
There are enough vendors interested in yellow grease, ranging from large companies to delivery trucks running on bio-fuel, that paying for carting these days should be a last resort. Even our FedEx driver in Philadelphia collects used cooking oil, “For the last twelve years I have been using fifty to sixty percent used restaurant oil to run my…truck. I have a license to pick up waste oil and I visit restaurants [on my route] at different times that let me use the oil for free. The start-up for getting the filters and pumps to clean the oil was about…$700, but diesel fuel is four dollars a gallon….I save about $120 a week.”
It is also greener, of course. Jeff Wiseman, General Manager of Tri-State Biodiesel in the Bronx, NY says, “Donating used cooking oil is the most significant thing a restaurant can do if interested in the environment and being green. Biodiesel emissions are 90% less toxic than petro-diesel and there is a huge local need to cut back on emissions….Additionally, our biodiesel is sold back into the local economy, so it is an improvement locally.”
Wiseman advises using a licensed and insured vendor and getting on a regular schedule. One 35-pound carton of frying oil yields about five gallons of yellow grease. To fill a 55-gallon drum, calculate, on average how long it takes your operation to go through 12 containers of oil (keeping in mind the last one is in the fryer) and schedule pickups accordingly.