Alabaster funds biodiesel program

Alabaster funded a biodiesel and grease recycling program in its 2014-2015 fiscal year budget. (File)

Alabaster funded a biodiesel and grease recycling program in its 2014-2015 fiscal year budget. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The city of Alabaster is planning to have a new household grease recycling program up and running in the city by the end of the year after the City Council voted to fund the program for the current fiscal year.

The City Council voted in late September to approve the city’s 2014-2015 fiscal year budget, which included funding for the grease recycling program.

Alabaster began considering the program after Ward 4 City Councilman Rick Walters toured the city of Daphne’s completed biosolids facility in August, which houses the city’s biodiesel processing program.

Through the program, Daphne has set up used oil recycling stations in high-traffic areas throughout the city. The stations are stocked with empty white jugs, and residents can use the jugs to collect cooking oil and grease before returning the filled jugs to the recycling station.

A Daphne city employee then collects the used grease and oil and transports it to the biosolids facility. The oil is then run through a pair of oil-water separators before it is fed to a biodiesel processor.

Once the processor creates biodiesel, it is then mixed with regular diesel fuel to power backhoes, tractors and other diesel-powered equipment used by the city’s fleet. The fuel cost savings then allows the city to use more money toward other services and projects.

The program also helps to keep household grease and oil out of Daphne’s wastewater treatment plant, which Walters said is one of the hardest substances to remove when filtering wastewater. Walters said Alabaster is particularly interested in the grease recycling program, as it will help the city meet federal water purity guidelines to be enacted in 2020.

Alabaster City Manager George Henry said the city’s sewer department is still working to determine the total cost of the program, but said the city’s 2014-2015 sewer budget has funding set aside for the program.

“I’d say it will easily be operational by Christmas or New Year’s. I think that’s fair,” Henry told council members, noting the city also is finalizing the logistics of the program. “Obviously, there is incentive to have this up and running for the Christmas season.”