It’s no secret: Americans love fried food. But, what happens to the oil after preparing those foods is part of an ever-growing conversation on reducing food waste. Restaurants and consumers alike are working to reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills, something biodiesel has been winning at for decades.
The USDA, FDA and EPA recently announced April as “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month” and the National Biodiesel Board sees biodiesel as an active player in reduction.
“Recycling cooking oil for biodiesel production is a great step for any restaurant looking to reduce their food waste,” says Don Scott, director of sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board. “The oil is collected and refined into renewable energy instead of being sent to landfills or being poured down the drain.”
NBB estimates that nearly 2 billion pounds of used cooking oil is diverted from landfills each year. Thanks to robust recycling programs throughout the country, the volume from these programs continues to grow, making recycled cooking oil the second largest oil source for biodiesel.
“When biodiesel first came on the scene, it was common practice for restaurants to pay to have their grease hauled away,” adds Scott. “Today, it’s pretty standard for companies to have the used oil removed at no cost to them due to its value in renewable energy.”
In addition to used cooking oil, biodiesel uses by-products of animal production – animal fats – as a raw material source. In fact, nearly 1.3 billion pounds of animal fats go into biodiesel fuel today.