Alabaster expands grease recycling program

The Alabaster City Council agreed to purchase a biodiesel processor, similar to this unit used by the city of Daphne, during its March 9 meeting. (File)

The Alabaster City Council agreed to purchase a biodiesel processor, similar to this unit used by the city of Daphne, during its March 9 meeting. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster residents soon will have a more convenient means to safely recycle their household cooking grease after the City Council agreed to expand the city’s biodiesel program during a March 9 meeting.

During the meeting, the council voted unanimously to pay up to $22,000 to purchase equipment needed to fully implement the city’s new grease recycling program. The bulk of the cost will cover the purchase and installation of a BD65 Biodiesel Processor at Alabaster’s wastewater treatment plant, which processes household cooking grease into biodiesel.

Ward 4 Councilman Rick Walters said the machine and supplies will be able to process up to 500 gallons of biodiesel, which will be mixed with regular diesel fuel to power some city vehicles.

In November 2014, the city began making plastic jugs available to its residents through the grease recycling program. Since then, the Alabaster Sewer Department has been collecting the used grease to feed into the biodiesel processor.

“Everyone has been really excited about it,” Walters said during an interview after the council meeting. “It’s another step in the process toward meeting those upcoming environmental regulations.”

Walters said the biodiesel processor should be delivered to the city within about 30 days, and said the entire program should be “up and running within 60 days.”

Over the next few weeks, the city is planning to place about five plastic jug cages in several places throughout the city, such as fire departments, City Hall, the police department and possibly the Propst Promenade shopping center.

Residents will be able to pick up empty jugs and drop off full jugs at the cages, which will be regularly monitored by the city.

In addition to cutting down on the city’s fuel costs, the grease recycling program also will improve the longevity of Alabaster’s sewer system, Walters said.

“This program will reduce the amount of grease that goes into our sewer system. It will extend the life of our (treatment plant) pumps, which are the primary cause of breakdowns,” Walters said.

To request a grease recycling jug, or to learn more about the program, call Alabaster City Hall at 664-6825 or use the “Report a concern” link on the Cityofalabaster.com home page.