How Do Restaurants Get Rid of Their Oil: Effective Disposal Solutions

Restaurants manage used cooking oil through grease traps, professional collection, and innovative recycling programs. But how do restaurants get rid of their oil precisely? This article cuts through the fat, offering you a clear view of their disposal strategies, without spoiling the rich details to come.


  • Restaurants must dispose of used cooking oil properly using grease traps and collection services to avoid clogs, environmental damage, and non-compliance fines. Regular grease trap maintenance and licensed collection are necessary for operational safety, plumbing integrity, and regulatory adherence.
  • Recycled cooking oil serves as a vital feedstock for biodiesel production and has diverse applications, including creating animal feeds, household products, and industrial lubricants. Biodiesel from used cooking oil greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to energy security.
  • Secure storage and handling of used cooking oil are important to maintain its quality for reuse and prevent theft. Restaurants should use airtight and dark containers, perform safe handling procedures, and implement security measures such as locks and surveillance to safeguard oil from illegal removal.

Proper Cooking Oil Disposal for Restaurants

A restaurant owner pouring used cooking oil into a grease collection bin

In the bustling environment of a restaurant kitchen, it’s easy to overlook the importance of properly disposing of used cooking oil, sometimes referred to as dirty oil. However, the consequences of improper disposal are far from trivial. Pouring oil down the drain can lead to:

  • clogged pipes
  • sewer backups
  • costly repairs
  • increased environmental pollution

Given the significant infrastructural and environmental consequences, it should come as no surprise that restaurants face substantial fines or even closure for non-compliance with local grease trap maintenance regulations.

So then, how do restaurants dispose of their used cooking oil responsibly? The answer lies in grease collection bins and scheduled pickup services provided by licensed grease collection companies. By following proper cooking oil disposal procedures, restaurants can maintain a safe working environment, prevent plumbing issues, and stay compliant with local regulations.

Grease Traps and Interceptors

Grease traps play a crucial role in the responsible disposal of cooking oil. Their function is to separate fats, oils, and greases (FOG) from wastewater, allowing clear water to flow into the sewer system while trapping FOG substances. This ingenious design includes a flow rate controller, inlet pipe, baffles to prevent FOG escape, and an outlet pipe. Local governments often mandate the use of grease traps to block FOG from entering the sewer system, thereby preventing environmental pollution and public health issues.

However, grease traps require regular cleaning and maintenance for efficient operation. The plumbing industry recommends cleaning once 25% of the trap is full of FOG, a rule known as the one-fourths rule. To ensure thorough cleaning, the dry pump method is recommended, effectively removing all accumulated FOG materials and gray water.

Restaurants also employ grease trap pumping services to remove cooking oil and grease from their kitchens, ensuring that grease traps perform efficiently.

Licensed Grease Collection Companies

Given the importance and complexity of proper oil disposal, many restaurants choose to partner with a licensed grease collection service like us here at Eazy Grease. This ensures proper, responsible disposal of used cooking oil and facilitates regular grease disposal for foodservice businesses. Partnering with a licensed service provider is not just about regulatory compliance, it also speaks volumes about a restaurant’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainable use of resources.

What sets Eazy Grease apart is our comprehensive approach. We offer:

  • Specialized equipment installation tailored to individual kitchen layouts and business needs, contributing to efficient oil usage and disposal
  • Oil collection process designed to operate 24/7, matching the restaurant’s schedule for minimal disruption
  • Comprehensive grease trap cleaning
  • Free pickup of used cooking oil
  • Market-value compensation for the waste oil

Used Cooking Oil Recycling Process

Biodiesel production process from recycled cooking oil

Moving beyond the restaurant kitchen, let’s explore the fascinating journey of used cooking oil after it has been properly collected. Far from simply being discarded, used cooking oil is commonly repurposed as feedstock for biodiesel production, a chemical process known as transesterification that separates glycerin from the oil. This recycling process begins with the collection of used cooking oil from restaurants, which is then transported to processing facilities for cleaning and preparation.

But the story doesn’t end with biodiesel. Recycled cooking oil is refined into a surprising variety of products, including motor oil, food-safe lubricants, plastics, rubber, and materials for 3D printing.

Recycling used cooking oil not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also has significant economic value as a commodity. This makes the humble cooking oil an environmental and economic powerhouse!

Biodiesel Production

One of the most notable uses of used cooking oil is in the production of biodiesel. Here are some benefits of using biodiesel made from used cooking oil:

  • It reduces life cycle carbon dioxide emissions by a whopping 74% compared to petroleum diesel.
  • It has a faster biodegradation rate.
  • It leads to a reduction in released carbon monoxide, making it a much greener choice.
  • Rendering plants in North America reduce carbon emissions equivalent to those produced by approximately 12 million cars each year, such is the environmental benefit of the biodiesel process.

But the advantages of biodiesel production do not stop at environmental benefits. Biodiesel produced from used cooking oil contributes to:

  • Energy security as it is domestically produced and can directly substitute for traditional petroleum diesel.
  • The by-products of biodiesel production, like glycerin, are used in the manufacture of soap, lotion, and shampoo.
  • Some by-products of renewable diesel production can be utilized as renewable butane and propane, and naphtha for solvents in paints and plastics.

Animal Feed and Household Products

Beyond biodiesel, used cooking oil is also transformed into valuable ingredients for animal feed and pet food. Inedible meat, fat, and bone not used for biofuel are processed into:

  • protein meals
  • bone meal
  • blood meal
  • oils

These ingredients are then used as raw materials for various products through the rendering process.

In addition to its agricultural uses, recycled cooking oil is converted into sustainable household items like soaps and solvents. This means that the used cooking oil from your local restaurant could end up not only powering vehicles and feeding farm animals, but also cleaning your hands or dissolving your paint!

Storage and Handling of Used Cooking Oil

Proper storage containers for used cooking oil

While we’ve covered the journey of used oil from the fryer to the biodiesel plant, it’s worth taking a step back to consider the crucial stage of storage and handling. Whether in a restaurant kitchen or at home, properly storing and handling fryer oil, especially used cooking oil, is key to maintaining its quality for reuse or recycling.

Choosing the right container for used cooking oil storage should take into account the dimensions of the kitchen, available space, and height restrictions. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Airtight containers are essential to prevent oxidation and subsequent rancidity.
  • Dark containers are recommended to filter out UV rays which can accelerate the degradation of cooking oil.
  • The optimal temperature for storing cooking oil is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit in a cool, dark location, away from heat sources.
  • Cooking oil should not be stored above the stove as the heat can heighten the risk of rancidity.

Choosing the Right Container

When it comes to choosing a container for storing used cooking oil, the size should correspond with the oil usage rate to prevent oil from sitting unused, which can lead to freshness and quality issues.

For cooking oils, such as vegetable oil, that are not used regularly, it is advised to use smaller containers to ensure the oil remains fresh and to reduce exposure to air, which can degrade the oil’s quality.

Safe Handling Procedures

Handling used cooking oil, particularly when it’s hot, requires caution and proper safety gear. Employees must wear:

  • Heat-resistant gloves
  • A full mask
  • A full-body apron made from heavy rubber
  • Closed-toe shoes with heavy treaded soles to avoid any skin exposure

Staff should use dedicated oil shuttles or caddies for transporting used cooking oil and should be trained to properly read and comply with the equipment manufacturer’s safety instructions.

It’s also important to note that waste cooking oil should never be touched when it is hot, which can reach up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Handling hot oil should be conducted only after the oil has cooled, with continued caution. An immediate response to oil spills involves cleaning up with materials such as cat litter, absorbent towels, or Oil-Dri. Moreover, staff should be prepared with first aid for burns and emergency protocols should be in place.

Preventing Grease Theft

Secure outdoor containers to prevent grease theft

As surprising as it may sound, cooking grease theft is a growing issue where used cooking oil, often referred to as restaurant grease, is illegally stolen from restaurants, leading to revenue loss and property damage. The act of stealing grease not only affects business revenues but also poses safety risks to employees and damages equipment.

Preventing grease theft can be addressed by:

  • Using secure indoor containers if space permits, or enclosed outdoor containers with locks, as well as pipe locks
  • Enhancing physical security by adding gates or corrals around containers, or storing them in a locked outbuilding
  • Installing surveillance systems, such as CCTV cameras and alarm systems that detect unexpected drops in oil levels

These measures are effective at both deterring thieves and alerting authorities.

The Dangers of Grease Theft

The dangers of grease theft extend far beyond the financial losses. They can lead to accidents that harm employees, customers, and the public due to dangerous and improper methods used to transport stolen grease. The unsafe practices of grease thieves can risk spills and potential harm to restaurant employees who are not trained to handle such situations.

Accidents resulting from grease theft have a wider impact, posing risks to customers and members of the public alike.

Security Measures

There are several effective security measures that restaurants can take to protect their used cooking oil:

  • Indoor containers provide secure storage options, protected from external access.
  • Secure outdoor storage can be achieved through enclosed containers that are lockable, limiting access to authorized personnel.
  • Locking tubs or drums with securing rings are recommended by suppliers to prevent unauthorized siphoning of used cooking oil.
  • Proprietary hose connections designed to work only with specific equipment can effectively prevent oil theft from storage tanks.

Surveillance systems such as cameras and alarms act as a deterrent to potential thieves and help in tracking down offenses. The installation of security lighting around the storage areas serves as an effective deterrent to grease thieves.

Home Cooking Oil Disposal Tips

Local recycling center for used cooking oil disposal

While commercial kitchens generate large quantities of used cooking oil, it’s worth noting that the principles of responsible oil disposal also apply at home. Homeowners can dispose of used cooking oil by placing it in non-recyclable containers, like frozen juice or beverage cartons, labeled as non-recyclable, and discarding with regular trash. Alternatively, used cooking oil can be frozen in a plastic bag and then tossed in the trash.

Residents should never pour oil or grease down the drain but can consider the following alternatives:

  • Straining it for reuse
  • Contacting their local municipality for appropriate disposal locations
  • For small amounts of cooking oil, homeowners can ask local restaurants to add the oil to the restaurant’s collection bins
  • Wiping excess grease or oil from dishes, pots, and pans with paper towels before washing helps minimize the amount of grease entering the drain.

Reusing Cooking Oil

If you’re cooking at home and find yourself with leftover used oil, there’s no need to throw it away. Cooking oil can be reused by homeowners as long as it maintains acceptable taste, smell, and color. To clean and reuse cooking oil, follow these steps:

  1. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove any food particles.
  2. Store the cooking oil in a clean, airtight container.
  3. Keep the container in a dark, cool place until ready for reuse.

However, it’s important to remember that each time oil is reheated, its quality degrades, so it should only be reused a limited number of times. Also, avoid mixing reused cooking oil with fresh oil, as it can compromise the smoke point and quality.

Local Disposal Options

In addition to reusing oil, there are other responsible disposal options at a local level. Homeowners should check with their local municipality or local fire department to find options for disposing of used cooking oil, such as:

  • Recycling centers that accept used cooking oil
  • Household hazardous waste collection events
  • Grease recycling programs
  • Drop-off locations for used cooking oil

Recycling centers can properly dispose of donated used cooking oil in a safe and proper manner.

Eazy Grease’s Services for Restaurant Oil Disposal

As an industry leader in the disposal of restaurant oil, we at Eazy Grease, a grease collection company, offer various services tailored to your facility needs. From grease trap cleaning designed to maintain a clean and efficient kitchen environment, to the collection of used cooking oil with measures in place to prevent theft, ensuring safe and responsible recycling of oil waste.

Grease Trap Cleaning

Our grease trap cleaning services are designed to:

  • Ensure legal compliance and help restaurants avoid fines by adhering to local ordinances
  • Handle all necessary paperwork and municipality requirements
  • Facilitate a hassle-free experience for our clients.

Our licensed technicians specialize in grease trap services, providing cost-effective cleaning and maintenance for restaurants. Regular maintenance services ensure proper functioning of grease traps and holding tanks, preventing plumbing blockages and expensive repairs.

Used Cooking Oil Collection

Our used cooking oil collection service includes:

  • A team of professionals who arrive at the restaurant to accumulate the oil and transport it for processing and responsible recycling
  • Schedules that are arranged to minimize disruption during slower operational periods
  • Robust, customized containers for cooking oil waste storage, ensuring a tailored solution based on specific needs

We also provide financial benefits to restaurant owners by buying used cooking oil at competitive prices with same-day payments, and by selling bulk containers for efficient waste oil storage. In addition to oil collection and recycling, we offer a comprehensive oil management service that encompasses grease trap cleaning and maintenance, with an emphasis on safety and regulatory compliance.


As we reach the end of our journey through the fascinating world of cooking oil disposal, we hope you’ve gained a deeper understanding of the importance of this often overlooked aspect of restaurant operations and home cooking alike. From the critical need for proper disposal procedures to the innovative ways in which used cooking oil is recycled and repurposed, it’s clear that this humble ingredient plays a significant role in our environment, economy, and even our legal system.

Whether you’re a restaurant owner seeking to improve your grease management practices, a homeowner wondering what to do with leftover cooking oil, or simply a curious reader, we hope this post has provided valuable insights and practical tips. Remember, every drop of oil that is properly disposed of contributes to a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future for us all!

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to oil from restaurants?

Used cooking oil from restaurants is collected and then processed to produce renewable diesel, which is in high demand for sustainable fuel. This collection and processing is typically managed by a recycling company.

How do restaurants clean their frying oil?

Restaurants clean their frying oil by using a machine with filter paper and filter powder, which helps remove impurities that build up in the oil with use.

How do you get rid of oil in food?

To remove excess oil from your food, use paper towels to gently soak up the oil by patting the surface. This simple trick is effective for soups and fried foods like samosas and fried chicken.

What happens if cooking oil is not disposed of properly?

Improperly disposing of cooking oil can lead to clogged pipes, sewer backups, increased pollution, and fines for not following local regulations. It’s important to dispose of cooking oil properly to avoid these negative consequences.

How should used cooking oil be stored?

Store used cooking oil in airtight, dark containers at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit in a cool, dark place, away from heat sources for freshness and safety.

Eazy Grease
Eazy Grease
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