The Cooking Oil Recycling (COR) Program is a unique pilot project to recycle used cooking oil into biodiesel and keep oils and greases out of the waste water system. Funded by the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, the COR Program is a collaboration between the Metropolitan Sewerage District (MSD) of Buncombe County, Blue Ridge Biofuels, and Green Opportunities. A new website, www.cookingoilrecycling.org, provides the public with information on the program as well as the location of cooking oil recycling bin locations. The first of 35 recycling bins are located at the Buncombe County Landfill and at the new River District Recycling Center behind the old silo off W. Haywood Rd. through the Hatchery Studios parking lot. Bins are also located at the Madison County Landfill and at the Henderson County Landfill.

Waste cooking oils are one of the major causes of costly sewer maintenance in Buncombe Co. These sewer overflows are a potential threat to the environment and take up valuable resources of the local budgets for public works.

By placing public recycling bins across Buncombe County, the COR Program seeks to keep waste oils out of the sewers and divert them to Blue Ridge Biofuels for processing into biodiesel. MSD was the first major purchaser of biodiesel in Buncombe Co. and has been using biodiesel in its fleet of 85 vehicles for over seven years. Blue Ridge Biofuels is Western North Carolina’s premier biodiesel manufacturer and has produced over 500,000 gallons since it started production in 2005, selling biodiesel to area fleets, municipalities, farms, schools, at eight public stations, and for home hearing use.

One of the main hurdles to increased availability of biodiesel in WNC is the lack of cost-effective feedstock. With soybean oil – the main feedstock for biodiesel production in the US – at well over $4 per gallon, waste cooking oils are the most cost-effective raw materials for biodiesel producers. Increased access to low-cost feedstock will allow Blue Ridge Biofuels to produce more biodiesel that is comparable in price to petroleum diesel. Biodiesel, a direct replacement for diesel, is better for the environment than petroleum diesel with lower green-house gas emissions. It also protects against engine wear with its increased lubricity. Biodiesel increases our state’s fuel security and creates jobs in our local economy.

The COR Program has created two jobs: a Public Relations Coordinator to develop and implement the pilot project and an Oil Collection Specialist to service the oil collection bins.

The COR Program is supported by local governmental and non-profit agencies and will engage multiple, diverse communities across Buncombe Co. in recycling, reducing waste, and keeping biodiesel feedstocks out of the sewers and directing them to a local biodiesel producer to be sold back to the community. The COR Program will help achieve the goal of the North Carolina Strategic Plan for Biofuels Leadership that by 2017, 10% of liquid fuels sold in our state will come from biofuels grown and produced in NC.