Kitchen Grease Haulers Now Required to Register with MDA
Kitchen grease may not seem high on the list of valuable items a thief might steal, but the practice has become so widespread and potentially dangerous that the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has launched an online registration system to help ensure this hazardous commodity is hauled only by legitimate professionals.
“We hope this registry will help deter waste kitchen grease theft and offer assistance to those who provide the valuable transportation service to the industry,” said MDA Secretary Buddy Hance. “MDA has spent the past year developing its online system to make the registration process efficient and transparent and hope it will serve as a useful tool for law enforcement officials.”
The Maryland Waste Kitchen Grease Transporters Program was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 2011. The law requires companies that haul waste kitchen grease to register with MDA and provide identifying information for each vehicle used to transport waste kitchen grease. Individuals who haul relatively small amounts of waste kitchen grease to make biodiesel for their own use are exempt from the registration program.
Waste kitchen grease includes used restaurant cooking oils that are collected and recycled into useful products such as animal feed and biodiesel fuel. In recent years, waste kitchen grease has become an attractive target for thieves due to rising prices resulting from a strong market demand. Industry representatives supported the registration requirements to make it easier for police to identify the legitimate waste kitchen grease transporters from the criminals. Companies failing to register as required by the law are subject to fines of up to $10,000 and up to one year in prison.
“Waste cooking oil theft is a real and significant issue to our industry. The new law and registration program provide standards that will distinguish legitimate operators from thieves,” said John Spagnolo, Director of Operations for Greenlight Biofuels. “We are hopeful that these measures will aid in curbing the market for stolen waste cooking oil. Greenlight Biofuels looks forward to continued enforcement efforts by the state of Maryland to eliminate the theft of waste cooking oil.”
In the past, kitchen grease was a waste material that restaurants and other food processors had to pay to have hauled away. In recent years, the grease has become a needed and valuable component in the manufacturing of biodiesel fuel as well as animal feeds. As a result, restaurants that previously left grease out for a renderer to haul away are now having their grease stolen – a scenario that creates serious health and environmental hazards. If kitchen grease is handled improperly, it can ignite and cause fires and explosions which could injure people and damage property. Grease that is transported improperly can also spill and leak into sewers, rivers and other waterways, causing environmental damage.
Waste kitchen grease transporters can complete the registration process and pay online with a credit card through the state’s official website or MDA’s website. Additionally, the registry is accessible for use by law enforcement officials and the general public through an online search tool. Other programs within MDA that require licensing and registering will also be moving toward providing more online services.
The online Waste Kitchen Grease Transporters Registration System was developed for MDA by the Maryland Information Division of NICUSA, Inc. through the self-funded eGovernment services contract with the States’ Department of Information Technology (DoIT). Technical support for the registration program is provided by NIC.
Click here to read the new law.