Fryer grease rustlers on the prowl
Grease thefts are driven by higher prices of gas and ethanol.
Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 08:40 PM
GREASE: Recyclers typically contract with restaurants to pick up the waste product. The grease is cleaned and sold for use as biofuel, livestock feed and other products. (Photo: Rex Roof/Flickr)
OMAHA - Used fryer grease rustlers are roaming restaurant alleys again across the country.
Grease thefts have spiked whenever fuel prices climbed during the last four years and this spring is no different, said Tom Cook, president of the National Renderers Association.
"It's on the rise and it's because of higher oil prices," Cook told Reuters in a telephone interview. "I have one member who told me it's costing his business $1 million a year."
Recyclers typically contract with restaurants to pick up the waste product. The grease is cleaned and sold for use as biofuel, livestock feed and other products.
An Omaha recycler has filed theft reports with police in Omaha and Lincoln in Nebraska, and Sioux City, Iowa. Thieves recently beat him to about 4,200 pounds of used grease from six Lincoln fast-food restaurants.
Processed fryer oil is not trash. It is called yellow grease and is traded. Its value is driven by higher prices of gas and ethanol.
Recyclers and collectors pay restaurants about 18 cents a pound for grease. After further processing, it can be sold for 42 to 45 cents a pound, said Cook, who is based in Alexandria, Virginia.
Yellow grease was trading for less than 8 cents a pound in 2000.
Cook said he plans to conduct an industrywide survey to determine the extent of the losses. Many restaurant owners don't realize what they are losing and local law enforcement agencies have other crime-fighting priorities, he said.
One way to curb demand for stolen grease is to alert potential buyers, especially in the feed industry, to only buy from known sources to ensure the product they receive is free of impurities and moisture, Cook said.
"The price (of yellow grease) is real good right now," he said, "and those who steal it are really getting a good deal because they're not paying for it."
(Editing by Jerry Norton)
Copyright 2011 Reuters US Online Report Domestic News