Clean Streets, Cleaner Trucks, Less Waste and Happy Pockets: Cooking Oil Recycling Outreach

On Friday, July 8th, 2011, Human Impacts Institute (Hii) representatives from ourEcoPreneurs Program canvassed local restaurants along Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The objective was to outreach and promote recycling cooking oil to be converted into biodiesel. Hii has partnered with RWA Resource Recovery to promote their service of free, on-demand, efficient pickups of waste cooking oil to food service establishments in New York City.

RWA is flexible upon scheduling, working with the business to establish a pick-up of the cooking oil dependent on their needs. RWA is a program of the Doe Fund, which is a non-profit organization, which employs formerly incarcerated and homeless New Yorkers in green jobs. Due to their non-profit status, all businesses who contribute cooking oil to RWA receive a tax deduction, in addition to the free service. Tax-deductions are a major incentive for small or large businesses especially in the poor state of the economy, every extra dollar counts!

The overall outreach experience was positive. Hii representatives succeeded in getting one restaurant to sign-up for RWA’s services. Many of the local, small, take-out restaurants had an existing recycling service. Some businesses were not as responsive to the message as others. In these instances, Hii left educational information about RWA’s services and the positives affects that recycling cooking oil will have on their community. Reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill, creating green jobs, saving our waterways and infrastructure from clogs in the sewer system, supporting alternative energy choices, and curbing climate change and asthma are all positive impacts brought about by recycling cooking oil.

While canvassing local restaurants, Hii also scanned the sidewalks for empty tree pits, tree stumps, and areas with enough space for new tree pits to be installed. The information collected was later entered in the New York City Parks Department Forestry Service Request system, where any New Yorker can input requests for free street trees to be planted in their community. Hii expects to see some new trees along Grand Street sometime in the near future!

By Brigette Walsh, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Services Intern

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