Student’s Corner

I’m here to tell you about an upcoming seminar about local biodiesel efforts at (gasp) our rival, RIT. Ordinarily I would shy away from promoting the competition, but the e-mail I received about the event was from David Frank, a University of Rochester alumnus (and my former TA). Besides the seminar only takes place at RIT – it will be run by representatives from Monroe County and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute.

Biodiesel is a very common fuel source with a variety of ingredients and applications. Vegetable or animal based oil are both viable for biodiesel conversion. Monroe County has an EcoPark where waste cooking oil can be dropped off and converted into biodiesel used in service vehicles and maintenance equipment. The EcoPark is also a place to drop off recyclable items like scrap metal, clothing, curbside recyclables, and large plastics. It occasionally will accept unwanted medications, tires, and refrigerant containing appliances.

Reuse of cooking oil prevents clogged sink drains, sewers, and ending at a landfill. A single liter of oil can contaminate as much as one million liters of water. Waste oil in a landfill causes pollution and can attract unwanted animal life. Indoors, storing waste oil is a health and fire risk. Interestingly, cooking oil can also be used to make soap. Unfortunately, the EcoPark does not provide soap making services. Despite this, teuse of cooking oil is now easy when there are so many services available for collection and distillation!

Those of you out there who work at or own a restaurant, please consider attending! Everyone is invited. The seminar is open to the public, though pre-registration is required.

The workshop is on October 5 from 9:00am to 11:15am. Registration is recommended prior to October 1, which is coming soon! Here is a flier for the event. Hope to see you there!


By Alanna Scheinerman, Class of 2013

3 Replies to “Student’s Corner”

  1. The article above says that “waste oil in landfills CAUSES pollution.” The article you cite says nothing about the damages caused by vegetable oil, but rather talks about what vegetable oil CAN do.

    And the image linked to is not funny. Why don’t I take a picture of your toilet bowl after you do your daily constitution and ask, “Do you want this in your water?” Is that now what constitutes “evidence” and argument?

    The US EPA determines the standards to which landfills must be built. As I suggested, there is plenty of research out there for you to look at to illustrate just how serious the problem of pollution from cooking oil is. I’ve yet to see it cited. And if “not all landfills are built to Rochester standards” is the discussion we’ll have, then why do we wish to empower the EPA to do even more regulating of things with less certain impacts when we’ve just admitted above that it cannot take care of one of its core functions?

    I recall an old Saturday Night Live skit with a cowbell in it.

  2. – Do you want this in your water? I should hope not.

    All kidding aside, here is another link about environmental damage caused by vegetable oil :

    And not all landfills are built to those specifications. Sanitary landfills are the norm now, that doesn’t mean all landfills have been retrofitted or built to code. Every place isn’t like Rochester.

  3. Yes, indeed oil is dispersed in water and it would quickly “contaminate” large quantities of it. I googled your quote and found these:×8246682


    What does it mean to contaminate? If one liter or water is spread over a million, wouldn’t bacteria quickly emerge to feed on it? And how harmful is cooking oil to water in terms of our ability to clean it? Suggesting that something might possibly happen is not the same as it actually happening. How serious a problem is cooking oil contamination now? What are the environmental costs of alternative ways of disposal?

    I happen to think the evidence on recycled cooking oil for biodiesel works in its favor, both economically and environmentally, so it would be great to see that.

    More important, the point of modern landfills is that they are built to withstand contaminating water. A good deal of research has been done on how effective they are. It would be hard to contend that “waste oil in landfills cause pollution” (at least in any meaningful sense) after examining the science on it.

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