Restaurant Grease Theft On The Rise

Once the realm of fringe biofuel fanatics, the demand for restaurant grease to refine into biodiesel has sent prices skyrocketing. Not surprisingly, this has also meant that theft of restaurant grease is on the rise, threatening legitimate businesses as grease rustlers raid restaurants for a new kind of payday.

Greasy Gold

Rising gas prices have led many businesses to exploit generous state and Federal incentives for converting to biodiesel. Though there are many methods for converting grease into biodiesel, they all share the same vegetable-or-animal-based yellow grease.

What was once a commodity trading for eight cents a pound is now selling for about 40 cent a pound, a 500% increase. That is nearly the same increase that gold has experienced in the past decade. A gallon of grease can bring about $3 a gallon on the open market, rivaling the cost of milk and even gasoline.

This has led some restaurants to lock up their grease, or install security cameras. But the real victims here are the legitimate biodiesel refiners, many of whom have established relationships with restaurants stretching back years. The theft of this commodity can put refiners in a tight spot, and give unethical businesses a leg up by buying black market yellow grease. Yet police forces, already stretched thin in many areas by tighter budgets, don’t seem willing to prosecute grease thieves with much vigor.

What’s a grease recycler to do?

Source: NPR | Image: Fries via Shutterstock

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.