Veggie Oil Theft on CBC

Here's an interesting podcast from CBC on 2008-05-08.

Description from CBC.ca:

Grease Bandits: Contractor

Grease is the word, as they say. For greasers in the movie and musical Grease that word meant slick hair goo and a whole way of life, but grease has become a coveted fuel source. So much so, there's a black market for grease.

This raw grease can be refined into yellow grease, which can be used to make biofuel, and as the world's appetite for biofuel increases, so goes the demand for grease.

Restaurants, with their bubbling deep fryers, have always had lots of grease to dispose of, and sometimes companies pick it up for them. But increasingly, grease collectors complain that thieves are pilfering restaurant grease.

Our producer Michael O'Halloran visited a restaurant in Calgary to see what they do with their grease.

You might say that yellow grease is a new black gold, a hot commodity whose price has tripled. And with that rapid rise in value, grease banditry is rampant in some U.S. states. That bothers people like Christopher Griffin, director of legal affairs for Griffin Industries, a company that's been collecting restaurant grease since 1943. He joined us from Cold Spring, Kentucky.

Grease Bandits - Lawyer

Some might say that catching one of these thieves is like catching greased lightning, but others argue that these cases aren't really theft at all.

Jon Jaworski is an attorney in Texas who has represented dozens of clients accused of stealing the often stinky stuff. His work has earned him a reputation as the "grease lawyer," and we reached him at his office in Houston.

Grease Bandits - Canada

Grease theft may be a growing problem in the U.S., but for some perspective on the situation in Canada, we were joined in Toronto by Stu Porter, the biodiesel technical advisor to the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.


Anonymous said...

Theft of "used" vegetable oil (it's no longer called "waste") is indeed a problem in the US, and is increasing at an astounding pace. I've been using it in one form or another as motor fuel since 1992 when every restaurant in town would gladly pay to have it hauled away. Now however, in just the past year or so it has become widely known that it can be cleaned and used "as is" in farm and construction vehicles and is developing into a potential source of trouble for the parade of folks who still think they can just go around back and take the stuff without even asking for it. The worst offenders, at least in this area, are the guys who've converted old Mercedes Benz cars to run on it and now find they have to go in the middle of the night and scrounge for it. They happily empty the drums I've had in place for years, and when I began using lockrings on them they just as quickly began using bolt cutters to break them open. The local police only grin when I report the theft and damage, as if in some kind of disbelief. A processor in Cleveland Ohio began putting his drums in mesh cages last winter and found to his amazement that someone was dumping a type of heavy garage sludge in them that completely fouls his filtration devices! Spite? Someone just trying to dispose of a hazardous waste at someone else's expense? Who knows. In any event the gold rush is definitely over for the small timers who cannot operate on a twenty cents per gallon profit. I predict used veg oil will within a year or less be selling for within a few cents of pump diesel. Simple supply and demand economics. That's as it should be, the people who buy and pay for the stuff and are forced to raise their food prices because of skyrocketing oil prices have every right to profit from their investment when they can, considering that foodservice enterprises have the highest rate of failure of all small business. So if you're thinking about jumping on the "drive-for-free" bandwagon might be best to wait a little while, I'm quite sure there are soon going to be lots of bargains around on old Mercedes Benz's. I have several thousands of dollars invested in my small operation and am re-structuring at this moment to become a process-for-a-fee facility. I will no longer try to collect and market the stuff. The time's they are a-changin!

... Smells Like Fries said...

Great comment. The people who do that kind of sillyness are really dragging hobbiests like me and professional greasemonkeys like you down. My supply is getting paid now as well. But they're still giving it to me for free because they don't care. I don't take all of it anyways, and they don't make enough to cut me off.

Donno about Dino-WVO parity - we'll see.