The SFPUC’s SFGreasecycle program is concluding after serving San Francisco restaurants for over 12 years. Developed in 2007, the program aimed to divert fats, oils and grease (FOG) from San Francisco’s sewer infrastructure while offering a offering restaurants and residents a cost-effective option to recycle used cooking oil.
Before the launch of SFGreasecycle, the SFPUC estimated that FOG-related blockages cost San Francisco more than $3.5 million a year. There were no requirements in place for restaurants to properly manage their used cooking oil, leading to illegal or unsafe practices such as dumping grease down the drain or stockpiling it in basements and back alleys. The program addressed this market gap through collection service, public outreach, and recovery and reuse of the FOG to produce biodisel for vehicles.
In 2011, San Francisco passed the FOG Control Ordinance, which required all restaurants contract with grease haulers to properly manage their used cooking oil. The regulations at the state level have been implemented since 2007 requiring grease haulers and renderers to be certified – further legitimizing this growing industry and resulting in more private haulers providing free oil collection services across California.
Since the inception of the program, the SFPUC has collected over 3.3 million gallons of used cooking oil from 1,100 restaurants and residents during the past 12 years, reduced 49 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions through production of biodiesel, and generated more than $5.4 million in revenue for the SFPUC through the sale of processed oil to biodiesel producers along west coast.
With SFGreasecycle’s success and the growing presence of private-sector haulers, the SFPUC has announced it will conclude the program as private companies continue to expand the market potential demonstrated by the program.