Sunday, May 18, 2008

UMF, Sugarloaf sending waste oil to Green Bean Biofuel

Kennebec Journal
May 13, 2008

FARMINGTON -- A Vassalboro company that converts used cooking oil to clean-burning fuel for cars, trucks and home heating systems is looking for your grease.
Two new customers sending waste oil to Green Bean Biofuel are the University of Maine at Farmington's Dining Services and Sugarloaf/USA in Carrabassett Valley.

The biofuel is manufactured by Randy Bean, owner of Bean's Commercial Grease Inc., a new facility on Riverside Drive in Vassalboro. Customers for the finished fuel product are chiefly businesses operating trucks that are designed to be powered by diesel.

According to Bean, 1.8 million gallons of waste vegetable oil is generated annually in Maine by restaurants and food services. His plant is equipped to produce 935,000 gallons of biofuel a year and he needs one million gallons to meet that demand.

Bean's trucks pick up the waste oil from containers two or three times a week and leave a clean one in return at no cost.

At UMF, Chris Kenney, the director of food services, is leading the way among ARAMARK services nationwide in recycling waste cooking oil for biofuel production.

"We are proud to be able to say that we are recycling 100 percent of our waste cooking oil for biofuel," Kinney said, "And being 'green' is contagious. I am hearing from the directors of other food service programs who are interested in enhancing their own recycling efforts with similar programs."

This new sustainable initiative is expected to recycle more than 1,600 gallons of waste cooking oil and grease generated in the UMF kitchen annually. In 2007, the Maine Resource Recovery Association named UMF Dining Services "Composter of the Year" for composting 35 tons of food waste. That same year, the UMF campus, which is committed to environmental stewardship and to graduating responsible global citizens, recycled 7.6 tons of cardboard; 1,870 cubic feet of plastic; 5,985 cubic feet of metal; and 920 cubic feet of glass, according to a press release.

Green Bean is the only company in the state producing biofuel for commercial sale from waste oil, Bean said.

Bean's customers include construction contractors, school districts and nearly 50 individual customers who fill up their cars and tractor trailers at the plant using a key card system.

Last week, Bean was charging $4.16 a gallon for diesel at the pump compared to $4.39 at area gas stations. He also manufactures and delivers a "bioheat" product that blends #2 home heating oil with biofuel and saves people 18 to 22 cents per gallon.

Made from renewable sources, biofuel has lower emissions than petroleum, is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

At the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, inspector William Butler gives Bean high marks for his operation and his product.

"Randy has perfected the production process," he said. "The challenge was going through all the different permit applications that are required for anyone manufacturing and selling biofuel and he did it all.

"The proof is in his customer base. He has entire construction fleets running on this fuel and they can't afford to have break-downs," Butler said.

To contact Green Bean Biofuel, call (866) 873- 9199.

Betty Jespersen -- 779- 6991

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