The City Council wants restaurants to recycle old cooking oil and building owners to use it as heating fuel. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report about the plan that will soon become law.
It's a greasy job but for five years, Tri-State Biodiesel has been helping to turn cooking oil into fuel that can be used to heat homes, buildings, and run diesel engines.
"That can all be replaced with a much cleaner burning biodiesel fuel, and we keep all of our money in our economy instead of sending it away to by foreign oil,” said Tri-State Biodiesel Chief Executive Officer Brent Baker. “So it has a lot of different benefits."
The Federal Environmental Protection Agency says biodiesel burns much cleaner than regular diesel, reducing the amount of pollution released into the air. The City Council agrees and passed legislation this week mandating all buildings in the city that burn heating oil use at least two percent of biodiesel fuel mixed in with regular diesel.
"That will reduce asthma, that will make it so New Yorkers can live longer, healthier live, and put us all in a position where we can all literally and figuratively breathe easier," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
This is good news for Tri-State Biodiesel, which is based in Hunts Point in the Bronx. It collects cooking oil for free from numerous restaurants around the city and trucks the oil upstate to a company called Northern Biodiesel in Rochester. There, the oil goes through a chemical process making it a viable fuel to be sold at competitive prices.
Workers from Tri-State Biodiesel say the cooking oil goes through several layers of filtration. The first part of that process removes all of the food scraps like chicken bones and egg shells."
"You just smell a little bit like chicken, but it doesn't bother me,” said Tri-State Biodiesel worker Robert Fludd.
Roughly a billion gallons of heating oil is burned in the city every year, and the council says putting cleaner burning biofuel into the mix will definitely improve the environment. And, in most cases, owners will not have to make any changes to their boilers to use it.