This past holiday season marked San Francisco’s annual fuel drive, where residents can bring in their used cooking oil to be recycled into biodiesel for the municipality's fleet of vehicles. No results have been posted yet on how much cooking oil the city collected, but the trend has been positive. From Dec. 26 through Dec. 30, residents could drop off their oil at specific Whole Foods and Costco locations around the city. The only requirement was that the kitchen grease had to be stored in leak-proof containers. The city also ran similar programs after Thanksgiving in 2007 and 2008 which yielded 1 and 2 tons of turkey grease respectively.
Grease is a big problem, and not just for the landfills where much of it still gets dumped. In San Francisco each year, 65,000 gallons of grease end up in the sewers and the results are disastrous. Grease hardens in sewers and gets stuck there – in fact, half of all the city's sewer emergencies are caused by grease. “It's hard as a rock,” said Tyrone Jue, a spokesman for the city's public utilities commission. “It's sort of like what happens with grease in your arteries.”
The cost of fixing damaged pipes sucks $3.5 million a year out of the city's budget. In economic times of these, when municipal funds are struggling enough as it is, it would be a shame to spend so much money on a problem that is completely avoidable.
In addition to the grease collecting program, the city is trying to find other ways to cut down on the amount of food ooze going down the drain. About one out of every five of the city's 500 restaurants have signed up for free grease pick up from the city. San Francisco takes the grease it collects to a treatment facility where any food remnant is removed and then the oil is further refined in a biodiesel manufacturing plant before being pumped back into the fuel tanks of municipal vehicles. More information of the city's grease recycling program can be found here at www.greasecycle.org.
If this latest food fuel drive is successful, the city is looking at running the program 365 days a year.
Via The San Francisco Chronicle
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