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Impact of Cooking Oil Disposal

With over 2.5 billion gallons of used cooking oil created in the U.S. annually, proper oil disposal is a significant waste management issue. Due to the environmental impact of grease disposal, a conscious effort should always be made to recycle rather than disposed of waste oil. Grease disposal into a landfill can lead to long-term environmental harm. Furthermore, used oil is often improperly disposed of down kitchen drains, which can lead to clogged plumbing, sewer blockage, and groundwater contamination. Here are some facts about the negative environmental and financial impact of grease disposal:

  • The City of San Francisco spends $3.5 million every year to unclog sewers, with a large contributor being cooking oil poured down drains
  • One liter of waste cooking oil can contaminate up to one million liters of groundwater
  • Animals exposed to large amounts of cooking oil are at risk of suffocation, smothering, and coating of fur and feathers

Benefits of Cooking Oil Recycling

Recycling has become easier for both households and businesses in recent years. Many municipalities have implemented grease recycling programs and more companies have focused on providing oil recycling and grease trap cleaning services to businesses that create large amounts of waste oil. The majority of what is recycled is refined into various types of biofuels used for fueling automobiles and home heating. Some of the benefits of recycling include:

  • Biofuels produced from vegetable oil burn cleaner, emitting 78% less carbon dioxide than traditional diesel fuel
  • Biofuels, when used as an alternative to traditional fuels, have the potential to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by 80%
  • Recycling can provide additional revenue for restaurants in the form of compensation from the recycling company, as well as significant tax deductions
  • Reduction in the blocking and deterioration of sewage systems

The many benefits of recycling grease are leading to widespread implementation of grease recycling and waste oil collection programs:

  • In Europe, more than 80% of used vegetable oil is currently being converted into biofuel
  • The average U.S. McDonald’s restaurant recycles nearly 1,450 gallons of oil per year
  • 100% of used oil from Darden Restaurants is recycled (Darden owns popular restaurant chains including Red Lobster and Olive Garden)

How Can you Recycle Cooking Oil?

Recycling For Households

  1. Go to Dispose of Cooking Oil to have all the necessary information about proper disposal and recycling at your fingertips
  2. After cooking, allow the oil to cool down and pour it into plastic storage containers. You can store the containers in the freezer to allow the oil to solidify and prevent spills during transportation to the recycling drop-off point
  3. Locate your nearest recycling drop-off location
  4. Plan ahead for recycling. Designate storage containers and drop-off periodically (e.g. once per month)
  5. Be happy that you are protecting your home and city from damage, helping the environment, and possibly earning some extra money for your used oil

Note: Many cities and recycling companies will offer additional drop-off locations after Thanksgiving to handle increased demand.

Recycling for Businesses (e.g. restaurants)

Since most businesses produce much larger amounts of cooking oil than the typical household, it is best to hire a waste oil recycling company to provide recycling services. Many of these services provide compensation for waste grease on a per-gallon basis.

Whether you use cooking oil in your household or business, it is important to learn about proper disposal and recycling, so you can do your part to help the environment and potentially improve your bottom line.


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