Clearing household FOG the focus of Cowichan's new waste cooking-oil bins

Clearing costly, greasy FOG from homes is the aim of Cowichan's newest green-pilot push — believed to be a Canadian first.

Fats, oils and grease now clogging kitchen drains, regional sewage pipes and septic fields can now be donated free by homeowners for making biodiesel vehicle fuel as four new deposit bins were slated for use Tuesday.

"To our knowledge,' said FOG-buster Rick Juliusson of Cowichan Energy Alternatives, "this is the first time in Canada these kind of bins are being used to collect residential cooking oil.

"As always, the Cowichan Valley is blazing the path," he said, saluting bin buyers Duncan council and the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Those residential waste cooking-oil collections bins — bought by taxpayers at $2,500 each — will sit in Cowichan Bay, and at three rural recycling facilities to help haul an annual 139,000 kilograms of greasy crud from household systems.

"Basically, all this oil goes down the drain and causes sewer back ups," said Juliusson. "We don't want things like solid bacon fat, but liquid oils like olive and vegetable oil."

He was amped about folks helping jack production by the Cowichan Biodiesel Co-operative..

"Any oil into composting is slow to break down, but we're turning it into biofuel.

"We're not running at (150,000 litres monthly) capacity, but we're making about 50,000 litres a month now, and almost all of that currently comes from restaurants," he said of FOG picked up separately from most valley eateries.

"These new bins aren't made for restaurants — until now residents' only option was to do go to Bings Creek waste facility."

New bins at Bings, Meade Creek and Pearless Road recycling centres, plus the bin at Cowichan Bay's Pier 66 store, join a one-yer-old bin at downtown Duncan's Merit Furniture store, facing Canada Avenue.

Three more cooking-oil bins are slated for North Cowichan's 2013 budget — with one possible headed to Chemainus, he projected.

Juliusson wished for other eco-grease traps in Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay.

The CEA believed it costs residents and taxpayers about $340,000 a year to maintain Cowichan's greasy sewage and septic systems.

About 300 tonnes of carbon could also be wiped from the valley's carbon footprint by transforming those oily wastes into biofuels, said Juliusson of FreeRange Consulting.

"For every litre of biofuel used, instead of fossil fuel, it reduces Cowichan's carbon footprint.

"This is a no brainer; everyone wins."

Stale-dated oils, liquid from Christmas turkey and meat cooking, plus donuts, fish and chips, and stir-fry grease can be poured by homeowners into plastic containers — with secure lids — then slid into the roadside bins.

Public bin openings happen Nov. 27 at 1 p.m. at Duncan's Merit site, then at about 1:45 p.m. at Cow Bay's Pier 66 store.


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