Ladysmith greased its way to a greener future Friday with the grand opening of its first collection bin for residential waste cooking oil.
Mayor Rob Hutchins deposited a sealed plastic jug filled with canola oil into the bin as town officials and representatives of Cowichan Energy Alternatives (CEA) and the Cowichan Bio-diesel Co-op (CB-DC) looked on.
Cooking oil deposited in the bin will be collected by the CB-DC. The co-op will then convert the oil to biodiesel at its Bings Creek plant and distribute it both at the pump and to wholesale customers.
CB-DC president Brian Roberts said the oil collection program is ideal because it’s a great way to intercept plant-based oils before they enter the wastewater system.
“Otherwise,” Roberts said, “most of this stuff from residential sources just gets poured down the drain and actually winds up costing cities millions of dollars. The oils basically coagulate inside, like the hardening of a city’s arteries. Eventually, they have to dig them up and clean out all the hardened fats. It can be very expensive.”
Roberts said they’ve processed “several-hundred-thousand” litres of oil since the co-op first began operating in 2005, and they’re now working with the CVRD to set up a pump at the Bings Creek plant so the CVRD’s heavy machinery can be run on biodiesel, too. In the interim, biodiesel will be sold at the co-op’s biofuel pump located at 2999 Allenby Rd. in Duncan. The CB-DC’s biodiesel is currently priced at $1.44 per litre, plus applicable taxes.
Hutchins said the opening of the bin is long overdue, adding Ladysmith now has a lot of catching up to do.
Removing waste cooking oil from wastewater will be one of several strategies used by the town to address Ladysmith’s inadequate treatment regime.
Hutchins said the town commissioned a design for its new secondary treatment plant last week. Construction should begin next spring and the plant should be up and running by spring 2014.
Rick Juliusson, the CEA project manager responsible for residential waste oil collection, said there are a few simple ground rules that apply for people wanting to use the bin.
First is the CEA’s preference for plastic containers. Sealed metal bottles or canisters are allowed, but Juliusson asked people to refrain from placing glass containers in the bin.
“Rule number two,” Juliusson added, “involves screw-on lids, so bottles don’t pop open once they’re in the bin.”
As a third rule of thumb, Juliusson said only liquid oils are allowed. Solid, congealed oils like bacon grease or lard can’t be recycled and won’t be collected as a result, and the bin is not intended for automotive wastes like engine oil or antifreeze.
Ladysmith’s residential waste cooking oil collection bin is located in front of the public works yard at the intersection of Roberts Street and Sixth Avenue.