California Rendering Board Looks to be Sustainable

California renderers appreciate the inedible kitchen grease program put in place over 10 years ago to help curtail the theft of used cooking oil in the state. While grease theft is currently not a top concern due to low commodity prices, keeping the program sustainable and moving in a focused direction is a priority. The Rendering Industry Advisory Board (RIAB) met with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in early November to discuss the future of the program.

Jim Andreoli Jr., Baker Commodities Inc., reported that because program registration fees do not cover the nearly $600,000 in yearly expenses, the program’s reserves tapped to make-up the deficit will be exhausted within the next year. Tad Bell, California Grain and Feed Association, informed the board that Assembly Bill No. 655 was recently signed by California Governor Jerry Brown raising registration fee caps so RIAB now has the authority to increase fees if need be. The board, however, is hesitant to do so at this time.

“CDFA investigators have done an effective job but there are not enough of them to cover all of California,” Andreoli commented. Currently one investigator works the northern part of the state while two investigators in Southern California divide their time between grease theft and the state’s livestock slaughter program. RIAB Chairman Michael Koewler, Sacramento Rendering Company, said the grease program cannot afford all the resources it needs but that progress has been made toward reducing grease theft in the state. He believes the program’s focus should be on audits of individuals/companies breaking the law based on complaints and incidents.

CDFA investigator Paul San Gregorio shared findings from random audits of trap grease haulers conducted this past summer. Of the 18 companies audited, only one was in full compliance. San Gregorio said most noncompliant issues were failure to report the grease measuring method used, the container capacity, and the percentage container filled. The inspectors used the audit as a training tool to educate many who were not aware of how to properly fill out the state-required manifest forms. With nearly 300 trap grease haulers registered in California, RIAB members recommended CDFA inform haulers of the audit’s findings and provide a training webinar to ensure future compliance. The board also directed CDFA inspectors to continue conducting audits next year, about 20 per quarter targeting haulers of both trap grease and used cooking oil. In addition, as a way to save program resources, Koewler suggested CDFA put the burden of proof on the noncompliant operator to report back within a specific timeframe that they are now meeting state regulations.

The board has put together an inedible kitchen grease quick reference guide that highlights the various laws in the California Vehicle Code as they apply to renderers and grease transporters. The guide will be laminated and distributed to California Highway Patrol, city police departments, and county sheriffs’ offices so law enforcement has the information readily available in their ticket books.

Another challenge for renderers is the increasing interest in food waste diversion in California with public subsidies – about $100 million annually – being offered for alternative methods of disposal.

December 2016 RENDER | back