Restaurants' Used Grease Draws Thieves

Once scorned, it's 'become gold'; can be turned into biodiesel
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2008 7:40 AM CDT
Restaurants' Used Grease Draws Thieves
Wesley Caddell, business developer for Blue Sky Bio-Fuels, looks at drums of cooking oils at his plant in Oakland, Calif., Monday, May 19, 2008.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

For decades restaurants have thrown away their used cooking grease without a second thought; now, they’re trying to protect it from thieves. Almost anyone can convert the yellow grease into cheap biodiesel using kits sold on the internet, and restaurant oil bins have become go-to destinations for everyone from environmentalists to thieves who siphon tanks in the dead of the night.

The grease is now traded on the commodities market, fetching almost $2.50 a gallon; some restaurants are selling it for extra revenue. “Fryer grease has become gold,” said one restaurateur. “And just over a year ago, I had to pay someone to take it away.” But grease thieves say they’re doing nothing wrong; many restaurants store the grease out by the trash, where it’s fair game. (More cooking oil stories.)

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