Sustainability: Cooking Oil

By: Grant Lewellen

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is our capacity to continue to meet our present needs without compromising the future generations ability to meet theirs. It has become apparent that our current treatment of the Earth and its resources determines our long-term vitality. Our goal is to find the balance between improving our present lifestyles and preserving resources to maintain sustainability for the next generation.

Resource Uses

Cooking oil is animal or vegetable fat used for frying, baking, and many other cooking processes. It is a very important part of the restaurant industry and provides much of the flavoring and cooking of food.

Can we sustain our current lifestyles?

Changes need to be made to current living habits if we are going to preserve not only our lives but the livelihood of the earth as well. The Earth's resources aren't always inexhaustible and we as humans often use these resources faster than they can be replenished. Exploring alternative resources and fuels while also recycling the resources we are currently using can open new doors for sustainability of the Earth. While this is easier said than done, something has got to give in the way we use resources and on a broader scale, our lifestyles as humans who occupy this Earth. Everything from government subsidies to individual initiative makes a difference and can be the force of change that we desperately need.

Recycling for Fuel

Many already know that we can use oils as a fuel source. But what about leftover cooking oil? Much of the oil used in cooking by restaurants and households goes to waste without actually being used and many don't realize that it can be burned off for fuel. Recently restaurants have turned to recycling and selling their leftover grease to biofuel manufacturer. This is a brilliant solution to the problem of oil pollution and a broader issue of alternative fuel use. However, the infrastructure for this industry has not yet developed on a large scale and is limited to four major restaurants conglomerates and is too expensive for smaller restaurants owners to implement nor do many of them realize the benefits of the trade. Educating these restaurants owners is key in spreading this new solution and improving our energy sustainability for the future.

Economic and Political Impact

The search for alternative fuel sources has become an increasing issue in recent years. With the crude oil industry being so volatile and increasingly expensive and harmful to the environment, its obvious that the human race needs to explore its options in terms of energy. Its current standards are not politically, environmentally, nor economically efficient and there are a number of different options that can improve this inefficiency. Biofuels are are renewable sources of energy that has become a more viable option with the increasing innovation in the energy sector. Much of today's biofuels are derived from types of vegtable oils from plants such as soybeans and sugar cane. With many restaurants already consuming such large quantities of vegtable oil, the industry and capacity has already developed for biofuels.