Going green with restaurant waste

Published: Sep. 16, 2009 at 9:52 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 17, 2009 at 1:50 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Melanie Okazaki
Melanie Okazaki
Kelly King
Kelly King

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Turning food waste into fuel is not a new concept, but now more restaurants are showing off their commitment to going green.

Looking for a greener fuel, you may just have to ask yourself, "You want fries with that?"

French fries at McDonalds are hot sellers! But they're just some of the items on the menu made with vegetable oil.

"We use cooking oil for french fries and for some chicken products as well as our pies," said Melanie Okazaki, McDonald's Marketing Manager.

That adds up to a lot of used oil, that used to go to waste.

But McDonalds is one of the restaurant chains that donates their old oil to Pacific Biodiesel, which turns that waste into fuel.

"For every gallon of used cooking oil we can make 90-95 percent of that into biodiesel. And right now we're making a million gallons of biodiesel in the state of Hawaii," said Pacific Biodiesel's Kelly King.

The process is pretty simple, a few ingredients are mixed into the heated cooking oil. Along with a little water. And in just a few minutes, its ready to be poured into a diesel engine.

Not only does biodiesel reduce our dependence on imported oil, it also is a cleaner burning fuel.

"There's less particulates thats the black smoke. There's virtually no sulphur in it. And we're also keeping things out of the landfill and out of the waste water system," added King.

Around 50 McDonalds around Oahu are recycling their used cooking oil. They are part of the 'Restaurants for renewables' program, an effort to let customers know just who is making a difference for the environment, as their meals are made.

"We are so happy to be more environmentally responsible and let our customers know, because it is a concern for us," said Okazaki.

The program has been so successful, McDonalds wants to expand it to all their restaurants around the state, as more biodiesel plants go online.

The making of biodiesel does have a small amount of waste product, in the form of glycerin. But even that is recycled, as it is sent to a composting company to be used as compost.