BlackGold Biofuels opens Charlotte trap grease recycling facility
They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This Earth Day, it certainly rings true for a newly open recycling facility converting wastewater into fuel. BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte has opened an innovative recycling facility for area restaurant kitchens’ wastewater, cleaning up the water and recovering a biofuel in the process. While it has become common practice to recycle deep fryer oil, the recycling of oils that are in kitchen wastewater has proven much more elusive. The facility is the first of its kind in the area.
BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte, located near the intersection of I-77 and I-85, receives grease trap waste from local wastewater haulers that is generated in commercial and institutional kitchens during dishwashing and food preparation. BlackGold Biofuels removes trash and food particles from this wastewater. It then extracts and purifies the recovered plant- and animal-based oils. The recovered oil is utilized in the production of biofuels, helping to offset the use of petroleum-based fuels, strengthening regional energy security and domestic energy independence.
“We have a 60-year tradition of offering the most sustainable options for our clients, and this facility is the latest example of how Valley Proteins goes beyond the status quo to deliver on that promise,” explained James Katsias, assistant director at Valley Proteins, one the largest grease trap waste haulers in the country.
By cleaning the water prior to discharge, the BlackGold Biofuels facility reduces the burden on the region’s wastewater treatment plants. The U.S. EPA names blockages from this grease as a top culprit in sewer overflows nationwide. It is estimated that grease is responsible for 50 to 60 percent of Charlotte area sanitary sewer overflows. Currently in the U.S., grease trap waste is often landfilled or spread on fields. The material can be sent to anaerobic digestion to produce biogas for energy use, but the digestion process results in the loss of more than 70 percent of the energy contained in the grease, and few facilities have the expensive infrastructure to convert it into energy. Lacking compelling alternatives, much of this waste ends up in the sewer system. BlackGold Biofuels’ state-of-the-art facility transforms this nuisance waste into a valuable resource, to the benefit of the local community.
“Proper grease trap maintenance is critical to the efficient functioning of the wastewater treatment system,” said Jackie Jarrell, Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities’ superintendent of the Environmental Management Division. “Creating high-use beneficial reuses helps divert this waste out of our sewers and into compliant pathways, creating a financial and environmental win for the region.”
BlackGold Biofuels, the developer behind BlackGold Biofuels of Charlotte, is based in Philadelphia but is building a network of these recycling facilities throughout the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. Additional North Carolina facilities are under development in Winston-Salem and Raleigh.
“We are proud to provide local businesses with the lowest cost, most reliable and environmentally friendly solution for recycling this waste,” said Emily Landsburg, CEO of BlackGold Biofuels. “We selected the region because we thought it would be a good place to do business, and the work of agencies like NC Department of Environment and Resources, Charlotte Mecklenburg Utility District, NC Department of Commerce, Charlotte Chamber, and the NC Biofuels Center have confirmed that.”