Turn Your Turkey Fat into Biofuel

A clear sewer line (left) compared to a FOG-clogged sewer line (right). Photos courtesy of Long Beach Water Department.

There is a industry term that both restaurants and waste collection agencies know all too well: FOG, an acronym for kitchen fat, oil and grease.

That grimy stuff which solidifies once cooled—derived from the fats of cooking oils, meats, dairy products, lard and the such—is detrimental to sewer systems, clogging them and costing everyone extra money. FOG-related issues sometimes cause stretches on Long Beach sewer infrastructure to require maintenance every three months, costing sewer customers over 20 sewer overflows in 2010 and an estimated $400,000 per year.

EDCO, a locally operated waste collection and recycle agency that serves Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, is offering a free option for the disposal of household FOG which mirrors massive efforts of other cities such as San Francisco.

EDCO will happily collect any discarded FOG in a leak-proof container at its Buyback Center in Signal Hill for free, funneling it to be processed, filtered and converted to biofuels via a third party.

Following an experiment in which biochemist Michael J. Haas turned an 800lb butter sculpture of Benjamin Franklin into biodiesel, San Francisco approached the company Haas worked with—BlackGold Biofuels—to create one of the nation's most vast FOG collecting-converting programs, extracting some 330 gallons of biodiesel every day from 12,000 gallons of wastewater.

It is important that participants do not mix FOG with any other oils, such as motor oil or gear oil, that inhibit the process of converting the FOG into biodiesel.

The EDCO Recycling Buyback Center is located at 2755 California Avenue in Signal Hill, open every week from 8AM to 4PM, Tuesday through Saturday. The center will be closed today.

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