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Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

Whole Foods Demonstrates the True Value of Waste Cooking Oil

Up until a few years ago, cooking grease had virtually no value but now it goes for 38 cents a pound. Rising gas prices have even made restaurant grease very attractive to thieves. There has been several cases over the past few years where people have been busted from stealing grease to make their own biofuel.

One company however, has figured out a way to recycle cooking grease back into its own operations, thereby eliminating the need for external disposal all together. Sustainable Business reports that the Massachusetts kitchen that prepares food for 62 Whole Foods stores in the North Atlantic region uses it own old cooking oil to generate virtually all of its electricity.

The 70,000 square foot facility relies on 50 kilowatts of renewable energy from Lifecycle Renewables. The lights, appliances, and culinary gadgets are all run on LR100, a biodiesel made out of waste vegetable oil. Lifecycle Renewables is contracted to collect waste oil from 28 regional Whole Foods as well many restaurants in the Boston area. The resulting fuel that is created from refining this oil reduces emissions by about 80 percent when compared to traditional diesel.

“It was critical for Whole Foods that they have a base-load reducing (continuous operation) system that provides true power redundancy," says Adi Venni, chief technology officer for Lifecycle Renewables. "From the fuel production to engine customization, emissions controls and operating controls – this is really a set-it-and-forget-it type system."

Whole Foods is a massive proponent of renewable energy and their aim to reduce their energy consumption by 25 percent per square foot by 2015. The current system that they use in their kitchens could help divert up to 156,000 gallons of waste oil annually, saving the company up to 20 percent of its energy and waste disposal costs.

Through this unique arrangement between Whole Foods and Lifecycle Renewables along with the kitchen, cooking grease is recycled in a manner that is beneficial to all parties involved.

Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

Read more stories by Akhila Vijayaraghavan