Oregon producer to use residential oil waste

By Ryan C. Christiansen | February 10, 2009
Web exclusive posted Feb. 17, 2009, at 3:31 p.m. CST

The recycling program in Marion County, Ore., now includes curbside recycling for waste vegetable oil which will be used as a feedstock for biodiesel production. Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling Association, which represents eight waste haulers within the county, has agreed to supply Salem, Ore.-based SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel LLC's 5 MMgy facility with the waste vegetable oil feedstock, according to Mary Kanz, executive director for the association.

"We're very surprised with the initial results," Kanz said. "Just within hours after the announcement, we were seeing cooking oil out at the curb. We were very, very surprised. It was very well-received by the public. We didn't expect to see mass amounts, but we were surprised at how quick it showed up. We're very pleased."

Kanz said the project began as a conversation between the waste haulers about what might be added to the association's curbside recycling offerings. "They were very familiar with the new (SeQuential) biodiesel plant and thought it would be a perfect connection," she said. "You can't get any more local than right in your own backyard. We connected with the SeQuential folks and they were as excited or even more excited. We didn't know what we were getting into and the more we found out about it, the more convinced we were that this was a good move to make."

To recycle waste vegetable oil, residents are asked to funnel the oil back into the containers they purchased the oil in and then set the containers curbside. "That would be the best suggestion," Kanz said, "because it is easy for us to identify, because we're picking up other liquids along with this. They really don't have to filter it, (because) that's all done at the biodiesel plant." Kanz said alternatively, residents can place the oil into another clear plastic container, but no glass. "It needs to be plastic with a twist-on cap to avoid any spillage once it is picked up curbside," she said.

After the waste haulers pick up the waste vegetable oil containers, the oil is dumped into larger containers supplied by SeQuential. The empty plastic containers are then recycled.

Kanz said it's too soon to know how much feedstock will be collected for SeQuential. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are 311,000 residents in Marion County. "Not everybody uses cooking oil," Kanz said, "but there is a large amount of people out there that do and they were very surprised. I'm hearing comments just about on a daily basis like, 'Wow! We get to recycle this, too?' We expect to see big spikes around the holiday times, you know, when people are doing the deep fried turkeys and things and then it will settle down throughout the year. We were pleasantly surprised at the quick response from the public."

Kanz is not expecting an enormous amount of oil to be collected. "But the environmental value of it is huge," she said. "Maybe people that hadn't thought of other recycling will see this and it will generate even more recycling because they are excited about this one aspect."
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