Foodservice Equipment Reports

Arizona City Considers Grease Pickups To Fuel Income, Thwart Thieves

We’ve reported a number of stories on restaurant grease and used fryer oil: clogged drains in Seattle, overflows in New Jersey, a pilot program in California prosecuting black-market grease thieves.

Across the Arizona border, another municipality is looking creatively at managing sewage and thwarting grease thieves. Tempe is evaluating whether it could turn the grease into biofuel and generate $3 to $4 million in the next 20 years.

The city is considering offering collection services to stop restaurants from flouting trap-cleaning rules and bypassing legitimate grease haulers. The city service would start with 100 restaurants, which would collect 5,000 gallons a day.

Tempe estimates it could charge 15% less than private haulers, which could encourage widespread, voluntary participation. If the experiment works, Tempe would consider expanding the program to serve the city’s 650 restaurants.

The discussion was initiated after the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality found too much used restaurant grease was flowing into the city’s sewers.

Tempe is talking to neighboring Mesa about processing the grease at a wastewater plant adjacent to a planned Chicago Cubs spring training complex. Mesa is studying whether grease processing would create odor problems.

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