A man who recycles restaurant grease into biodiesel while busting the myths the green fuel’s opponents have been spreading is being recognized by a network dedicated to sustainability issues.
Biodiesel Magazine reports that Brent Baker, the CEO of Tri-State Biodiesel LLC will receive the Social Venture Network’s 2009 Innovation Award at the group’s fall conference, starting October 22 in La Jolla, California:
As a representative of the biodiesel industry, Baker said he has been involved in dispelling the “myths” created by certain lobbying groups meant to confuse the public about the benefits and characteristics of biodiesel. “It’s been particularly bad the past two years,” Baker said. “One is that biodiesel production and use is worse for the environment, and takes more energy, than petroleum—and that simply is not true,” he said. “The first 15 years I was involved in this business, I never heard that.” Baker feels his role in education and the promotion of biodiesel led to Tri-State’s selection as an SVN Innovator. “There’s been a lot of negative publicity and I’ve been educating legislators and others about the positives.”
One of the controversies surrounding biodiesel lately has been its perceived role in the destruction of South American and Southeast Asian tropical forests. Biodiesel Magazine asked him if palm methyl esters were tarnishing the reputation of the industry. “The palm oil industry was an industry well before biodiesel,” Baker said. “And there is sustainable palm oil production, so we can’t let pictures of fires and abandoned villages color our whole perception of palm production.”
The article goes on to point out that by using the grease from 2,700 restaurants in the New York City area and turning it into biodiesel, Baker is practicing on of the cornerstones of the SVN: sustainability. But he also tips his hat to the first generation biofuels of corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel as paving the way.