Greasing the Wheels: An Ebay for Cooking Oil Could Help Tap Underused Fuel
Despite the allure of rapidly expanding renewable energy sources solar and wind, a far less sexy source of green power is already ubiquitous and requires no massive infrastructure investment: recyclable oils. Whether it’s leftover fast food cooking oil or used motor oil, these resources are abundant. The problem is getting them from those who don’t need them any more to those who do. Ask a biodiesel car owner where she got her fuel and she might say, “I know a guy.” The market for cooking oil is often informal and grassroots like that, comprising word of mouth connections between individuals and restaurants.
With StayGreen Oil, consumers and vendors now can access the first ever online marketplace for recycled oils. The Florida-based company launched a private beta version of its website in August, and plans to expand to the general public in October. StayGreen lets sellers list the location of their leftover oil on an online auction platform, with the goal of getting top-dollar by tapping into a wide network of buyers, whether “across the street or around the continent,” according to a press release.
The site provides a digital platform to monitor collections, track supplier activity, deal with billing and payment, and receive analytics. Sellers can also invite individual buyers to purchase their used oil at a fixed price point, if they’re eager to avoid the variables of an auction.
“Oil does not wear out,” says the StayGreen site, “it just gets dirty—so recycling it saves a valuable resource.” Used motor oil can get converted into lubricants or raw materials for industry—a much more efficient and environmentally friendly material than dipping into the supply of crude oil for the same purpose. 1 gallon of recycled oil, as opposed to 42 gallons of crude, can be converted into 2.5 quarts of an oil-based lubricant.
Another added perk: waste oils that can earn someone hard cash have a way of not ending up dumped into the environment.