In a couple of weeks, Camille Wehs, information technology director for the city, will begin a grease recycling program, in which yellow grease will be converted into biodiesel fuel to power small city equipment such as lawnmowers. Wehs said the program will come at a minimum cost to taxpayers and help the environment.
Residents will be asked to donate yellow grease by placing it into non-glass containers, such as plastic milk jugs, and dropping it off at collection tanks at two locations: Canton City Hall at 151 Elizabeth St. and the Canton Public Works Department at 2525 Ridge Road.
Residents will receive free of charge a funnel to aid in the disposal of the grease.
“When you fry a chicken or do a turkey for Thanksgiving, that’s the kind of grease we want,” said Wehs. “When you cook bacon at home, most people pour it in a jar or a tin can and stick it under the sink. Well, we have a lot of people that pour it down the drains.”
Wehs said the pouring of grease down residential pipes has been damaging to the city’s sewerage. Since 2001, Canton has been cited by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division for fats, oils and grease related issues on a regular basis.
Fats, oils and grease are now the leading cause of sanitary sewer overage in Canton, surpassing tree roots, according to the city.
“We conservatively estimated upwards of $40,000 to $50,000 that we could save just by pulling some of this grease out of our infrastructure,” she said. “It will help us on labor savings, chemical savings, elimination of some of our cleaning outsourcing and lift stations.”
Wehs said the conversion of the grease into biodiesel fuel will be done at no cost with the assistance of Clean Cities–Atlanta, a public/private organization that promotes environmentally friendly alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel in cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles to reduce petroleum consumption.
“It’s a chemical process that converts used grease into biodiesel and at the same time cleans it up – it gets all of the particular matter out of the grease from the cooking process,” said Don Francis of Clean Cities-Atlanta. “It burns just like diesel fuel.”
Hoover, Ala., near Birmingham has been a leader in grease to oil recycling programs, said Francis. According to the city’s website, 85 percent of the fuel used by Hoover is a qualified alternative fuel.
The only cost to the city will be the roughly $8 per hose to replace synthetic hoses inside some diesel engines to make them compatible, according to Wehs.
On Oct. 4, Wehs went before the Canton City Council at a work session meeting to present the idea for the grease recycling program and ask for support. To the disgust of officials, she brought a sample in a jar of what yellow grease looks like after it has hardened.
“The goal is to collect enough of this yellow grease from residential homes – which is where most of our problems reside – to convert them into biodiesels,” she told the council. “I’m not asking for any money. I’m just asking for your support.”
Wehs said she does not know if the grease recycling program will be a huge success, but that it’s important for the city to try to make the environment cleaner. The city also has curbside, electronic and paint recycling programs.
“At least putting forth the effort is a success in my opinion,” she said.