With rising food prices, increasing salaries and pandemic driven infrastructure adjustments, restaurant margins are pinched; so, restaurateurs want to know how to get top dollar for restaurant grease.
Used kitchen grease prices have risen along with oil prices creating a revenue stream via the rebates from UCO collectors to restaurants that recycle used cooking oil. With margins so tight getting top dollar for restaurant grease is important.
But isn’t all restaurant grease the same? Why would prices differ?
Why You Might Not Get Top Dollar For Restaurant Grease
Suppose a pharmaceutical company were buying millions of tablets of a generic cholesterol-lowering medication from a 3rd party manufacturer and discovers that the tablets contain only ¾ of the amount of the prescribed active ingredient; would the pharma company pay the contract price for the tablets? Would they pay anything at all for them?
Used cooking grease works similarly.
In order to sell their refined cooking oil to biodiesel manufacturers UCO collectors must deliver oil of a certain purity, within quantified standards. Typically that means that MIU (moisture, impurities and unsaponifiables) must be less than 2% and FFA (free fatty acids) less than 10%. If the grease recycler can’t deliver oil that meets those standards it can be recycled. If it can’t be recycled the grease collector doesn’t get paid. On top of not getting paid the collector has to spend time and money properly disposing of the contaminated grease. Then the UCO collector won’t pay you.
Used Kitchen Grease Contamination
If the kitchen grease contains 20% water one might think the recycler would simply pay 80% of the expected payment. It doesn’t work that way. Water can alter the structure of the oil itself, making the entire tank of oil unusable.
A tank of UCO contaminated by water, burned food, motor oil or other contaminants presents the UCO collector with additional expenses, and labor to ensure the oil he transports meets the standards of the biodiesel plant. The renderer must remove the water, the burned bits, the motor oil and whatever other contaminants are present and then pay to store and properly dispose of these waste products.
This is why a cooking oil recycler might not pay anything for a badly contaminated tank of oil.
Avoiding Contamination is Key for You to Get Top Dollar for Restaurant Grease
The most common source of contamination is from the contents of a grease trap which gets emptied into the UCO collection tank. Grease traps are ugly messes of food, sauces, water and miscellaneous chemicals. When the grease trap is cleaned the non-oil contents should be placed in the garbage, not poured in the oil storage tank.
Cleaning a fryer with soap and water is important but if the cleaning bucket or caddy is emptied into the grease storage tanks then the UCO is contaminated.
Motor oil is difficult and expensive to get rid of. Most companies have to pay to get someone to haul away their used motor oil. Some less-than-honest players will dump motor oil into the UCO storage bin. To the untrained eye it may look the same, but your UCO collector knows the difference.
Motor oil has a distinctly different odor and a different consistency. If a tube is stuck in used motor oil it doesn’t come out clear.
People not associated with a restaurant might dump their motor oil into a cooking oil bin just to avoid paying to get rid of it. That is another reason to have a secure, locked bin to store UCO or even an automated indoor system.
Overuse of Cooking Oil
Cooking oil has a limited lifespan with a number of factors affecting its longevity. Burned foodstuffs can collect at the bottom of a fryer and be repeatedly burned. If the oil is not filtered and the fryer cleaned, these contaminants can get into the recycling stream and render the UCO worthless.
To get paid top dollar for restaurant grease, the oil that is recycled must be of a reasonable quality to begin with. Contaminated oil doesn’t bring revenue to the recycler, it costs them money. Implement procedures and safeguards to prevent contamination and get top dollar for restaurant grease.