Animal Fat and Oil Recycling for Restaurants Key Terms / Industry / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you're in the restaurant business, handling the disposal of used fats, oils and grease is a fact of life. In the past, the ...

If you're in the restaurant business, handling the disposal of used fats, oils and grease is a fact of life. In the past, the concern was limited to keeping drains free of clogs, but as the environmental concerns associated with wastewater have become more widely known, you're most likely subject to strict regulations concerning your handling of these wastes. Fortunately, animal fat and oil recycling for restaurants has emerged as a win-win situation. Removing used fats, oils and grease from wastewater and landfills helps the environment, and restaurant owners profit by selling used oils and fats to renderers for recycling. Here are some of the key terms you need to know about animal fat and oil recycling for restaurants.

FOG (fat, oils, grease) recycling

The acronym FOG (fats, oils, grease) is often used in referring to materials related to restaurant waste treatment and recycling. Most municipalities and states have policies regulating how restaurants carry out FOG recycling.

Grease trap

A grease trap, also known as an interceptor, is a device that filters animal fats, oils and other greasy waste from a restaurant's wastewater. In many cases, the filtered grease may be collected and rendered or recycled.

Yellow grease

The term yellow grease can refer either to used vegetable oils from restaurant deep fryers or to the purified product of recycling these used oils. Recycled yellow grease is a common ingredient in animal feeds, and is increasingly valuable as an ingredient in biofuels.
U.S. Department of Energy describes a Wisconsin paper company's use of yellow grease as an alternative fuel.


Restaurant animal fat and oil recycling is just one segment of the rendering industry, which processes inedible animal byproducts and restaurant waste into usable materials. Rendering serves an environmental purpose by helping to keep these waste materials out of landfills and water supplies.


Biodiesel is an alternative fuel produced by combining alcohol with purified vegetable oils. Like ethanol, which is obtained from fermented corn, biodiesel is considered a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based fuels. Recycled vegetable oils from restaurant fryers are a prime source of biodiesel, and renderers will pay restaurants for this collected waste material.


As fuel prices rise, the demand for biofuels also rises, and the price paid by recyclers for used restaurant oils goes up, too. Siphoners are thieves who illegally siphon used restaurant oils from the outdoor tanks where they are kept for collection by authorized renderers, who are under contract to the restaurant. Siphoning has caused many restaurant owners to beef up security around what would once have been considered garbage.

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