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Negotiating For Waste Vegetable Oil
by Danna Linscott of Vegoil Conversions
Taken from 10 steps to converting to wvo..the basic process
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Click Here

Usually the most "available" (read as inexpensive) vegoil is wvo (waste vegoil) so this is the option I usually recommend investigating first. You cannot simply TAKE wvo from the dumpsters sitting behind restaurants. It usually BELONGS to somebody else. In most cases wvo in a dumpster BELONGS to the rendering/grease disposal company that owns the dumpster. Removing wvo from these dumpsters is THEFT unless you have permission.  Often the restaurant owner/manager may not have a clue that the contract with the grease disposal company takes ownership of this waste product once it is poured into their dumpster. Having "permission" from a restaurant that does not legally own the wvo will not be a defense if you are caught and prosecuted/sued by the grease hauler whose dumpster you are removing wvo from. And such prosecutions have already taken place.

Even if there are just drums or cubees of wvo sitting out back of a restaurant it may not be OK to simply take the wvo contained. It may belong to another person making biodiesel or collecting for their own vegoil converted diesel. Best to thoroughly reconnoiter the restaurants in your area to see if they all currently have grease disposal company owned dumpsters "out back". I so you will need to convince the restaurant to pour their fryer oil into a container you provide to "stay legal". Some are willing to pour the fryer grease back into the containers it comes in (Cubees) for you. It never hurts to ask. The benefit to them may be that they save money on grease disposal costs since most grease disposal companies charge for each time they pick up grease and an alternative way to dispose of the fryer oil may cut their bill by several hundred dollars a year.

I suggest starting with any oriental restaurants/buffets in your area. These usually have the best quality wvo. Burger places usually have the worst quality wvo, check these last. If possible look in the prospective sources existing disposal container first. High quality wvo looks clear at temperatures above 50*F. It may be from golden colored to as dark as Coke...but if it appears creamy it should not be your first choice. In weather colder than 50*F you may have to take a small sample home and warm it to 50* to determine its quality. If you can find a high quality source of wvo it will make your life much easier than if you only have a low quality source available. So take your time, this step is important.

Once you find a possible source or two it is time to approach the owner/manager about the possibility of taking some of their "waste fryer oil". Don't show up too well dressed, or at a time they are likely to be busy. But don't show up greasy either. I have usually approached restaurants in this way with good success. At a time in the early afternoon when the restaurant is nearly empty I order a small meal and ask to speak to the manager "when he as a few minutes" when I order. Normally he/she will come to your table half expecting a "sales pitch" since restaurant supply salesmen use this approach occasionally. So it may take a few minutes before they understand that you are asking to take something rather than sell them something. Go slow at first and if you get a blank stare go slower. Expect them to look at you as if you are asking a very unusual question. You are, and this is good. Explain that you have found a group of people that use fryer oil as a fuel for diesels and furnaces with only small modifications to the fuel systems. You are planning to try this experimentally and are trying to find a source that would be willing to let you take some of their waste fryer oil to see if it really does work as fuel. Eventually you might want all of their "fryer oil" but for now you're just interested in some for experimental use. If they say NO ask if they have a policy against this, some chain restaurants do. If so, it is best to simply thank them for their time and forget this as a source of wvo. It isn't going to happen...and arguing won't change that. Managers do not risk their job questioning or breaking "corporate policy". Go on to your second choice.

If they look skeptical let them think about it for a minute. Offer to provide a 55 gallon drum as a collection vessel. Ask if they foresee any problem that you may have to overcome or have any rule you may need to comply with. Be sincere and co-operative. If they say they need to think it over, or talk to the owner say that you will be here for lunch next week, thank them for their time, leave them your telephone number...and don't forget to tip the waitress after you finish your meal. Don't try to tell them everything you know about vegoil fuel, unless they ask. It won't help. If they give you the same "I need to talk to the boss" line next week ask if it would be more convenient for you to contact the manager by phone. Use you best judgment, but I prefer the "soft sell" and patience to being pushy when asking for wvo access. And if I have to come back a second time.  I usually bring in a table full of friends when I do. It helps...

See this is easier than you expected!

But a word of caution...several actually. Once you have secured a source of wvo try to maintain a good relationship with the managers and cooks. Keep the grease area clean and be unobtrusive. I rent a pressure washer each fall to clean the greasy back areas as a "perk" the grease haulers never provide.
Never load grease when it might in any way create more work or trouble for the restaurant.

Don't "gab" with the cooks, they may be busy. Just be friendly and efficient and as invisible as possible.

If possible bring in "business" in the form of restaurant customers whenever you can...it will help secure the source of wvo more than anything else.
And leave decent tips, waitresses are paid lousy wages.


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