The New San Francisco Treat – Biodiesel

John Davis

San Francisco, California has started a program to turn the waste cooking oil from the city’s many restaurants into biodiesel.

This story in the San Francisco Chronicle has more details:

sfgreaselogo.gifToday the city launches SFGreasecycle, a free program in which the city will pick up used cooking oil and grease from local restaurants, hotels and other commercial food preparation establishments. Those substances then will be turned into biodiesel, a fuel made of plant oil that burns cleaner than petroleum-based fuels.

Although several other localities around the nation have begun limited programs to collect cooking grease for biodiesel, San Francisco officials believe theirs will be the largest such effort.

Eventually, the city wants to recycle grease produced in homes with the intention of someday using the locally produced biodiesel to power all city vehicles, including public buses and fire trucks.

“This is a case of taking what could be a bad situation and turning it into a win,” said Susan Leal, general manager of the city’s Public Utilities Commission, the agency behind SFGreasecycle.

Turning the grease into fuel also helps the city in that it costs $3.5 million a year to clean out sewer pipes clogged with illegally-dumped used cooking oil. Part of the plan is for the city to build its own biodiesel plant.

Some local biodiesel-from-grease makers are crying foul, however, as they say the city’s efforts are cutting into their feedstocks. Used cooking oil is getting to be a hot commodity, as you might remember from my story a couple of days ago.