It's a given that time around the holidays means more family, and with that comes more cooking and more food.
A local temple is trying to get people to think about how, each year, a countless amount of used cooking oil probably just goes right down the drain.
Instead of turning it to trash, residents can make their homes a little greener and the highways of Phoenix a little cleaner.
Temple Emanuel of Tempe is collecting used cooking oil for the third year in a row. Like the last two years, they will donate the oil to Rev Biodiesel, which is one of the few places in the metro area that collects and sells the environmentally friendly fuel.
Residents can pour their oil directly into a barrel placed in the parking lot of Temple Emanuel, 5801 S. Rural Road. After the holidays, they will take the barrel and donate the contents to the Rev Biodiesel plant in Gilbert.
"There's the whole challenge of frying up donuts or latkes for the holiday, and what do you do with the oil?" Howard Paley of Temple Emanuel of Tempe said. "You don't have to do much with it, either. You don't have to strain it because when it gets to Rev Biodiesel it needs to go through a treatment process, no matter what."
The Rev Biodiesel website states: "Biodiesel can be made from new or used vegetable oils and animal fats, which are nontoxic, biodegradable, and renewable.
Fats and oils are chemically reacted with an alcohol and a catalyst to produce chemical compounds known as fatty acid methyl esters. Biodiesel is the name given to these esters when they are intended for use as fuel."
Some diesel vehicles can run biodiesel without any modification to the engine or fuel. Others will require it. Biodiesel companies stand by the fact that using the alternative fuel in diesel engines greatly reduces emissions, compared to conventional petroleum diesel.
"It's very good for your engine," said Susan Bryan, a spokesperson for Rev Biodiesel. "And there is a huge demand right now for biodiesel. In November, we purchased about 76,000 gallons of waste vegetable oil."
The demand for alternative fuels has exploded in the past decade. According to its website, Rev Biodiesel states that 500,000 gallons of biodiesel were sold in 1999, 75 million gallons were sold in 2005, and 700 million gallons were sold in 2008, as reported by the National Biodiesel Board.
Rev Biodiesel purchases only used vegetable oil from restaurants, hospitals and other places around the Phoenix area.
The plant in Gilbert can process up to 40,000 gallons per day, but Bryan said they are averaging between 5,000 and 10,000 gallons per day since it opened in January.
While a barrel of cooking oil may not have a huge impact, Paley said it's important for people to do their part, and this recycling effort could turn effort into something bigger.
"I think sometimes, the whole problem with recycling is sometimes you have to go out of your way a little bit," Bryan said. "But people can bring it by any time, and all they have to do is pour it in."
To find out more, visit the Rev Biodiesel website at www.revbiodiesel.com.
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