Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grease Pirates

Some trends are not necessarily a good thing. One of the newest rising trends in the food industry is grease piracy. Have you heard of this one? People are stealing used cooking oil or grease from restaurants and selling it to biodesiel companies to be recycled into fuel. Apparently there is profits to be had in the used cooking oil (and to think most of us home cooks probably just think of used cooking oil as a messy hassle rather than a potential profit center).

According to April issue of Gourmet Magazine, the average restaurant can produce 35-50 gallons of used cooking oil per week and they can sell it for about $1.50 per gallon to refineries who recycle the grease into gasoline alternatives. That represents a potential income of $3,000-$4,000 per year per restaurant. Of course if grease pirates start raiding multiple restaurants their potential profit stream goes up substantially. One man was arrested last year in California with more than 2,000 gallons of stolen oil in his tanker that he had siphoned off from various restaurants. I guess people can turn anything into a black market commodity. The best thing I can say about this trend is at least this waste product gets recycled in the end.

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