Urban Waste to Biofuels

The Fryer to Fuel program was a collaborative effort to collect used cooking oil from restaurants and  convert it into biodiesel to fuel local Santa Cruz vehicle fleets.  The program used a local waste as a local fuel, and serves as a model of community-based sustainable solutions.  Environmental Innovations contracted with Ecology Action of Santa Cruz to develop and coordinate this program, with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, and with the help of several partners.

The Fryer to Fuel program was developed to meet several different goals: (1) to achieve life cycle and end-of-pipe emissions for public diesel fleets, (2) to establish a viable local market for sustainable biodiesel, and (3) to increase the availability of locally-produced sustainable biodiesel.  With the help of several partners, all three goals were accomplished.  The Final Report illustrates in much more detail how the project took shape.

Partnering with local restaurants, Salinas Tallow, BioEAS Inc, Coast Oil, and local Public Works Departments, the Fryer to Fuel program collected 9,947 gallons or 79,592 pounds of high quality waste cooking oil from restaurants over an eight-week period.  This waste vegetable oil (WVO) was turned into biodiesel and blended to make almost 32,000 gallons of B20 (20% biodiesel) fuel, and then sold to local fleets.  Staff have estimated that 208,000 gallons of B20 biodiesel will be produced from Fryer to Fuel waste grease in the year following the project.  This is enough fuel to fill the tanks of over 4,300 City of Santa Cruz recycling trucks, or enough to fuel a fleet of school buses for an entire school district for a year.  It is expected that more restaurants will participate as the program expands, resulting in higher quantities of better quality local waste feedstock to make biodiesel.