Turkey-powered cars and trucks? A local recycling initiative is trying to make it happen.
Lake Tahoe area residents deep-frying turkeys or any other foods this Thanksgiving and holiday season can dispose of the used cooking oil at collection sites and have it recycled into biodiesel fuel.
“It’s a way to give a present to the environment for the holidays,” said Donna Walden, a regional coordinator for the Western Sustainability Pollution and Prevention Network and the Business Environmental Program at University of Nevada, Reno.
The university is teaming up with Bently Biofuels Co., a biodiesel producer based in Minden, to offer the recycling opportunity for the holidays.
It’s part of a “food recovery challenge” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated to reduce food waste.
Collection bins are being set up at sites in Reno, South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village, Zephyr Cove, Carson City and other Douglas County communities. Used cooking oil will be accepted free of charge from households from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve.
“This is really a good way for the community to contribute. It’s something easy they can do and know they are helping the environment and helping to make biodiesel,” Walden said.
The initiative aims to keep the used cooking oil out of drains and municipal sewers, which it clogs up, and out of landfills, where it decomposes and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Instead of going to waste, the used cooking oil can be recycled into an alternative fuel to power cars and trucks.
Bently Biofuels has been making biodiesel from recycled cooking oil since 2005, collecting the oil from restaurants in Nevada and the San Francisco Bay Area. The company estimates that in 2012 it produced enough biodiesel to offset about 9.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Making the community aware that they can recycle everything down to their cooking oil is vital to our mission,” Bentley Biofuels plant manager Christopher Turbeville said in a company news release announcing the program. “I couldn’t be more excited to partner with WSPPN on this project.”
To recycle used cooking oil, allow it to cool and pour it into a leak-proof container to take to a collection site. Screen the oil to remove any bones, food particles or other trash and contaminants.