Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 4:49 am | Overcast 56º


Used Restaurant Grease Fuels Local Recycling Business

The owners of Coastal Byproducts are on the road to success by transporting the substance from eateries to a biodiesel plant

When you’re chomping on a mouthwatering cheeseburger or some fried chicken, you probably aren’t pondering what happens to the grease it’s cooked with. But that’s exactly what Craig Boyce and Mark Craig are thinking about, because recycling restaurant grease and giving it a new life is key to their business, Coastal Byproducts.

The half-brothers, who co-founded Coastal Byproducts, spend their days traveling with their vacuum trucks between restaurants from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles. They arrive and use a vacuum pump to transfer the restaurant grease into the tanks on their trucks, and transport the grease to a biodiesel plant, where it’s used to make fuel.

They service more than 325 restaurants in Southern California, including all of Santa Barbara’s McDonald’s, Hamburger Habits, Taco Bells and KFCs. They even have a contract with cruise ships that come into the port of Los Angeles.

That adds up to a lot of grease. The pair transport anywhere from 25,000 to 28,000 gallons per month. “We have so much fast food in this nation,” Boyce said. “There’s not a shortage of grease.”

Restaurants are required by law to dispose of grease properly, so Boyce and Craig are able to sell the free grease, where it can be made into soap or lubricants, added to animal feed or used in cosmetics. They choose to take it to the biodiesel plant so it can be converted to fuel, and Boyce said helping offset the dependence on foreign oil is key.

“Grease, when it’s recycled properly, is a commodity,” he said. When the pair started their business last July, oil prices were incredibly high. Prices fell drastically, but things have turned up since.  Boyce said inflation is on its way, which means commodities will go up in price — good for the grease business.

“We’re a commodity, so we feel like the future is bright,” he said.

Boyce and Craig are locals who graduated from Santa Barbara High School. Boyce went to Westmont College; Craig went to to UCSB. Boyce sold his local power-washing business, Boyce Industries, and began researching green businesses and recycling. After he learned about peak oil, recycling the grease into biodiesel seemed to be a likely opportunity.

“There was no local company doing this,” he said.

The business also provides containers for businesses to use, ranging from 55 to 400 gallons. The containers lock so that they reduce theft and are made to hook up to the truck’s vacuum pump to prevent any spilling — unlike a traditional method of grease collection, which trades out barrels and places the full ones on a flatbed truck.

By law, restaurants are held liable for their grease even after they give it up for transport, so if a carrier leaks or spills it, restaurant owners are held responsible. That’s why the company decided to give each customer a “waste manifest,” which details the date, time and how many gallons the company picks up. If the health department checks, it can track the paper trail.

The two trucks the company operates run on biodiesel, and though driving is part of the business, “we do try to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible,” he said.

“The worst recession in 100 years and we feel like we’re growing,” he said. “We’re doing an old business, but in a newer, greener way.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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