County public works officials say that a program to allow homeowners, civic organizations and others to recycle used cooking oil is beginning to draw some interest, but they hope more people will become involved.
Last month the Board of Commissioners agreed to let Dennis Bledsoe, interim public works director, begin the experimental program to gauge interest.
Bledsoe said the program has been a long time coming.
“We began to think about it last April when I was at a conference and found out this service was available,” he said.
The county is working with a national company, Mahoney Environmental, which has an operation in Raleigh and runs a route that now incorporates Surry County.
The company has now provided the receptacles free of charge, will service them and provide all the upkeep at no charge to the county.
“They’re going to monitor it and take care of everything,” Bledsoe said. “All the county has to provide is the space for the containers.”
A couple of weeks ago, receptacles were put in place at eight recycling centers throughout the county, and Bledsoe says people are beginning to take advantage.
“We’re beginning to get a little bit of activity,” he said. “And people seem pleased that there’s a place to recycle used cooking oil rather than throwing it out.”
Containers have been placed at eight of the county’s 13 recycling stations, including Ararat River, Elkin, Fisher River, Flat Rock, the Surry County Landfill, North Surry, Westfield and Wilmoth Road.
“We tried to select areas that would allow most county residents easy access to the program,” Bledsoe said.
He acknowledged that the word is still getting around, and the receptacles have only been in place a couple of weeks, but noted that any cooking oil placed in the containers for recycling is that much less that ends up being dumped around the county.
“So far, I’m pleased that people are starting to use it,” he said. “Most people have been putting it in the garbage, but we wanted to offer a safe and healthy alternative.”
And while protecting the environment, residents using the service are also helping line the county’s coffers. The county gets what Bledsoe described as “a little bit of money” for collecting the oil.
“It’s important,” he said. “By recycling cooking oil you’re protecting the environment and why throw something away that can be reused for a benefit?”
Once cleaned, sanitized and filtered, the oil will be used to make biofuel and some will be used to enhance livestock feed, according to Bledsoe.
“My understanding is that it has some fat in it, and increases the fat and mineral levels in the feed,” he said.
According to Bledsoe, the county is targeting homeowners and civic organizations who use cooking oil for fund-raising efforts or other activities.
“We’re only looking for cooking oil,” he said. “Now that can be vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, any oils you cook with in the house.”
County residents can bring in the oil in any kind of container and pour it in a receptacle located a the recycling centers.
Bledsoe said he hopes more people take advantage of the chance to recycle their cooking oil.
“The traffic has been minimum so far, but we feel like, and hope, it will pick up,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.