Oil recycling bill pending in Rhode Island

By Erin Voegele | April 06, 2011

Pending legislation in Rhode Island would require used cooking oil to be recycled. A hearing for the bill, titled “An Act Relating to Health and Safety—Used Cooking Oil Recycling Act,” was held by the state’s Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee March 31. The committee recommended the measure be held for further study.

According to the text of the bill, the purpose of the measure is to establish a safe and environmentally sound cooking oil collection program in the state. It also aims to promote the development of state infrastructure for the recycling and refining of used cooking oil into biodiesel, while developing a comprehensive strategy for waste reduction in the state. The text of the bill also states it would help promote the development of green jobs and the use of waste-generated alternative energy sources, such as biodiesel.

In addition, the bill notes an oil recycling program would help eliminate the disposal of waste cooking oil in landfills and sewer systems, thereby minimizing sewer damage and maintenance costs and extending the capacity of landfills.“Used cooking oil clogs septic and municipal sewer systems, leading to overflowing manholes and high maintenance fees,” states the bill. “Sewer overspill causes environmental pollution and leads to disease in humans and animals.”

The bill would require the Rhode Island department of environmental management to establish environmental and public health standards for the collection, treatment and recycling of waste cooking oil for any facility that sells commercial cooking oil. The standards would ultimately require recycling receptacles to be placed at each of these facilities to collect waste grease generated by consumers. Regulated facilities, defined as those where cooking oil is sold and/or generated that have at least 10 employee or a yearly revenue of $1 million, would be required to maintain their recycling receptacles, while licensed collectors of the waste grease would be required to set a grease collection schedule with regulated facilities.

Grease collectors would then be required to transport the collected grease to licensed refiners, which would convert the waste cooking oil into biofuels—specifically biodiesel. Refiners, in turn, would be required to convert the waste oil into biodiesel. According to the bill, once the legislation becomes law and is put into effect, regulated facilities would be banned from disposing of waste cooking oil in any way other than recycling. If the bill is enacted as currently written, it seems likely to negatively impact other industries that utilize waste greases, including those that utilize waste cooking oil in the production of animal feed, pet food and cosmetics, by requiring all waste cooking oil be converted into biodiesel. 

To access the bill, click here


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