Foodservice Equipment Reports

Used Kitchen Grease Hot Product For Green Market Thieves

It’s a colorful tale: Yellow grease sold on the black market for the green biofuel industry.

Say what? Well, in yet another sign of the myriad ways the world of foodservice is changing, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has teamed up with law enforcement to stop thefts of used cooking oil.

The dirty oil, identified by the CDFA as “inedible kitchen grease” or IKG, has traditionally been hauled away and used as an additive for animal feed. But in the booming green economy, it’s not a waste product any longer. It’s a biofuel for vehicles. Operators are getting paid for it by legal recyclers—and being targeted by thieves who siphon it out of barrels and tap into tanks and sell it to a renderer for filtering. They process it into highly profitable “yellow grease,” which sells for about 40 cents a pound, almost five times what it was 10 years ago. That comes out to about $3 a gallon, close the cost of a gallon of milk.

Restaurants and grease recyclers have been forced to move storage barrels inside, lock them up, or install surveillance cameras.

The CDFA, which regulates IKG transport in the state, is attempting to stem the loss of revenue to legitimate recyclers. Late last month, the agency said it would pay local police to target the alleys and parking lots where restaurants typically park their containers of used grease, and pull over vehicles transporting IKG to make sure they are in compliance with state law.

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