Used cooking oil being poured into a container for recyclingIt’s no surprise that consuming too many fats and oils can have a negative effect on personal health. But fats, oils, and grease (FOG) also can harm those who work around them in restaurants and other commercial kitchens and food processing businesses. Improper or inadequate care in handling used fats, oils, and grease also can create problems for the environment. Safely collecting and recycling used FOG components offers health, safety, environmental, and financial benefits. Learn more about this from Oregon Oils, serving customers in the Portland, OR, metro area, and southern Washington.

What Is Oil Recycling?

Most restaurants, commercial kitchens, and many food product manufacturers use fats (solids), oils (liquids), and grease (semi-solids) in their cooking, or generate them as byproducts of food preparation. Typically, these are collected in grease traps or their larger cousins, grease interceptors, to prevent them from entering the municipal sewer system or commercial septic system. Once those units reach capacity, the collected FOG products must be removed for safe disposal.

In days gone by, used oil was commonly sent to be used in producing animal feed, or simply sent to landfills. Thankfully, times have changed, and that oil can now be recycled into green, environmentally friendly biodiesel fuel. Plant- and animal-based fats and oils, such as bacon grease, peanut and sunflower seed oils, and beef tallow, can easily and efficiently be processed into biodiesel fuel for additional uses.

What Are Some Health Impacts of Fats, Oils, and Grease?

Of course, too much fat is unhealthy to consume. Too much, or poorly handled fat, oil, and grease can also risk the health and safety of employees, customers, and others. Some dangers include:

  • Slip hazards — Slippery oils and residue can create dangerous conditions in food preparation and oil storage areas.
  • Contamination — Fat buildup in pipes can cause clogs and overflows that risk contaminating other kitchen areas, including water supplies, potentially harming both employees and customers.
  • Oxidation — When fats are heated repeatedly, rather than being replaced, they undergo an oxidation process, causing trans fats to increase. These are the most unhealthy fats to eat.
  • Hazardous gases — Poorly maintained or overburdened grease traps can generate methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other unpleasant and toxic gases, creating breathing hazards as well as unwelcome odors.
  • Fire risks — Filled grease traps pose a greater fire hazard.

How Do Fats, Oils, and Grease Affect the Environment?

Fats, oils, and grease, particularly in the volume generated by restaurants and other commercial kitchens, present special challenges to the environment. Potential problems include:

  • Damage to sewage systems and plumbing — When FOG products go down the drain, either due to negligence, accident, or poorly maintained grease traps, some will solidify and cause buildup and blockages inside pipes, including contributing to so-called “fatbergs.”
  • Increased energy consumption — Sewer treatment plants expend a substantial portion of their processing power to skim and filter fats, oils, and grease from wastewater, contributing to higher energy usage overall.
  • Overflows — Sewer line overflows caused by buildup and clogs can contaminate nearby ground and water supplies, even limiting plant growth in affected areas.
  • Septic system degradation — Commercial septic systems can be rendered ineffective if fats, oils, and grease flow into the system.
  • Storage leaks — Overflowing or leaking FOG storage containers can draw insects and other pests, and can leach into soil and water supplies.

How Does Oil Recycling Improve Health and Protect the Environment?

Recycling fats, oils, and grease with a responsible partner is a win-win solution for businesses, their employees, and the environment. Instead of contributing to health and environmental concerns, working with oil collection services can:

  • Enable the creation of biodiesel fuel — Used cooking oil can be processed into eco-friendly biodiesel fuel, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and their contribution to pollution and environmental damage.
  • Promote safety — Refreshing oil more regularly and preventing grease trap overflows results in healthier food preparation, and more safe and sanitary working conditions.
  • Save money — Proper disposal can prevent the assessment of fines for improper disposal of used FOG.
  • Earn money — Many jurisdictions and FOG recyclers, including Oregon Oils, offer financial incentives for partners contributing used oils for recycling.
  • Improve reputation — With increased awareness of sustainability and environmental impacts, many customers prefer to patronize businesses that choose eco-friendly policies and processes.

Fats, Oils, and Grease Collection and Recycling from Oregon Oils

Working with an oil collection and recycling partner can improve health conditions and offer environmental and financial benefits. At Oregon Oils, we provide free collection containers, free scheduled pickup, and compensate you for the amount of oil we recycle from you. As part of the Preferred Pumper Program (PPP), our industry-standard practices are inspected and well-maintained. Contact us for FOG recycling and grease trap cleaning and maintenance around the Portland, OR metro area, and southern Washington.

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