Restaurants Must Sell Used Oil for Biofuels

As of June 2012, restaurants in Asheville, NC, are required to recycle their used cooking oil through a biofuels producer in order to receive Green Restaurant Association (GRA) certification. Asheville joins a list of other cities with this same requirement, including Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, CA; Seattle and Spokane, WA; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; and New York City, NY. Restaurants in southern and central Connecticut and in Idaho and Wyoming must also recycle their used cooking oil through a biodiesel producer to receive the GRA certification. Nearly 500 restaurants are currently certified in the United States and Canada, with another 289 restaurants in the process of earning their certification.

According to Blue Ridge Biofuels, which operates a biodiesel production facility in Ashville, NC, prior to the city’s decision, restaurants receiving certification were permitted to use any oil collection service provider, the majority of which are based outside of North Carolina.

“These service providers take the valuable resource of used cooking oil away from the local economy and from biofuels production, thus adding to a restaurant’s carbon footprint instead of improving it,” the company stated in a press release. “Competition has driven prices paid to restaurants for their oil to record highs. This resource is in high demand and Blue Ridge Biofuels…must compete with a dozen other service providers for used cooking oil in Western North Carolina.

“The requirement that restaurants seeking Green Restaurant Certification must now use a biofuels producer as their oil collection service provider ensures that the restaurants are fulfilling their mission to be sustainable establishments,” the company went on to state.

Established in 1990, GRA is a national non-profit organization that helps restaurants become more environmentally sustainable. Michael Oshman, chief executive officer and founder of GRA, said cities are chosen for the “grease to biodiesel or energy” requirement based on the competitive environment, meaning two or more grease collectors service the city. Restaurants not in those cities listed may choose any grease recycling option to meet the certification program requirements. Oshman explained that while recycling used cooking oil for all uses is “great,” the association believes specifically using the used cooking oil to replace petroleum is the best form of recycling.

When the owners of The Corner Kitchen, a renowned farm-to-table restaurant in Asheville, decided to seek Green Restaurant Certification, the GRA contacted their service provider, Blue Ridge Biofuels, to confirm the restaurant recycled its used cooking oil. This inquiry, coupled with the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association’s initiative to make Asheville the Premier Green Restaurant Certified city in the United States, prompted the examination into the Green Restaurant Certification 4.0 Standard.

Following the discussion, Blue Ridge Biofuels contacted the North Carolina Biodiesel Association in an effort to build a case for adding Ashville to the GRA certification requirement. Oshman made the final decision to modify certification requirements for the city. All parties agreed that recycling cooking oil with a local biodiesel producer helped lower greenhouse gas emissions and supported local fuel production.

Canadian Plant Commissioned

Methes Energies Canada opened its doors in Sombra, ON, Canada, in August and is awaiting registration approval from the United State Environmental Protection Agency to begin producing and selling biodiesel made from used cooking oils and animal fats.

The 13 million gallon per year facility sits on a rail line providing easy access to its feedstock and for shipping its finished products. The plant is also in the same corridor as some of the largest oil refineries in Ontario. Canada requires two percent of all diesel fuel and heating distillate oil come from renewable fuels such as biodiesel.

California Producer Awarded Millions for Upgrades

The California Energy Commission has approved $1.86 million in grant funding for the expansion and upgrade of Yokayo Biofuels, Inc.’s biodiesel facilities in Ukiah, CA, increasing its production capacity from 1,400 gallons per day to 2,000 gallons per day using a pioneering enzymatic production process. The company currently collects about 40,000 gallons of used cooking oil per month from more than 1,000 restaurants and other facilities in Northern California to convert to biodiesel.

According to Yokayo Biofuels, the pioneering enzymatic process to be used in the facility is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and produces a higher quality biodiesel than current methods. In addition, the process allows greater use of brown grease, typically from grease traps, which is currently used in very small quantities in biodiesel production.

The project will consist of constructing new production, laboratory, and material storage facilities. Two new pipelines will connect vessels in the existing building with vessels in the new buildings. One pipeline will transport processed used cooking oil to the mixing vessel in the new building, while the second pipeline will transport washed fuel back to the dehydrator in the existing building. A third pipeline will transport methanol to the mixing vessel in the new building from a newly installed methanol storage tank.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $4.7 million. Yokayo Biofuels expects its upgraded production facility to be operating at full capacity by July 2013.

Midwest Governors Push Biodiesel Use

The Midwest Governors Association (MGA) is encouraging diesel engine and vehicle manufacturers – and their suppliers – to support the use of biodiesel blends of at least 20 percent (B20) by volume with conventional petroleum diesel in all diesel-powered equipment. Terry Brandstad, Governor of Iowa and MGA chair, and Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, and MGA vice chair, signed a letter addressing the issue.

The group highlighted one reason for supporting B20 and higher blends is that more than 13 states “have realized the environmental, economic, and energy security benefits to be gained through increased use of biodiesel, and encourage use of higher biodiesel blends from B2-B20 through a variety of state policies.” The letter also stated that biodiesel made from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks such as agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil, and animal fats reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent compared to diesel and reduces the country’s dependence on foreign oil. The group is also encouraged that biodiesel fuel quality has made enormous strides over the past 10 years.

“That quality is assured through the stringent biodiesel fuel specifications of ASTM D6751 (for B100), D7467 (for B6-B20), and D975 (up to B5),” the MGA stated. The letter went on to commend and thank auto and engine manufacturers for their partnership with the biodiesel industry, scientists, associations, farmers, and elected representatives of the states in the MGA over the last 20 years. The group then encouraged those remaining manufacturers who only publicly support biodiesel in levels of B5 and below to issue public B20 support for existing equipment, and to design all future equipment for a minimum of B20.

October 2012 RENDER | back