Collecting used cooking oil for recycling is a simple waste service to add to any multi-residential building to reduce waste, reduce costs, and help the environment. Leading buildings in Toronto have benefited from adding this waste service - read about the benefits and see our guide below.
Benefits of cooking oil recycling
- Improper disposal of cooking oil and fats can cause expensive plumbing damage in your building and in the City’s sewer system. Many buildings spend significant time and money annually to deal with clogged drains.
- Used cooking oil is a valuable resource that shouldn’t go to waste - it can be recycled into biodiesel, a renewable fuel source, or used for animal feed.
- Some cooking oil recyclers will pay your building a small fee for collected oil; the City of Toronto collects it for free.
Getting started with cooking oil recycling in your building:
1. Choose a service provider
Cooking oil recyclers typically serve restaurants and commercial kitchens, and increasingly, some are now collecting smaller volumes of oil from multi-residential buildings. Service providers will collect cooking oil from you for free, and some will even pay you for larger volumes.
You can find local used cooking oil recyclers and contact them for cost and service details. Below are a few of the service providers used by buildings participating in the Zero Waste High-Rise Project that offer multi-residential cooking oil collection in Toronto.
- Company will provide oil drum for collection, pays small amount per volume collected; one-time account set up charge
- Company will provide oil drum for collection, pays small amount per pick up; one-time account set up charge
- Oil can be dropped off in labelled containers at City Waste Depots or City customers can request free pick up with the Toxic Taxi
2. Identify a collection area
Next you’ll need to identify a space for an oil drum or other large container, and a designated and accessible area for residents to drop off their used oil, for example a recycling room.
- Set up a designated space (for example a shelf, table or cabinet), where residents can leave containers with their used cooking oil.
- Some buildings have invested in a supply of jars that residents can borrow from the collection station and bring back, but residents can also use any empty container (for example yogurt containers or jars).
3. Determine management plan
Determine how the oil collection area will be monitored and managed by staff or by resident volunteers to ensure success.
- Staff or volunteers could monitor this area and empty resident oil containers into the larger drum or container
- You may want to keep the oil drum locked and only only staff or authorized volunteers can open to deposit oil (to ensure quality and prevent food and other residue)
- Once the oil container is full, contact the oil service provider to arrange a pick-up
- How quickly you fill a drum depends on the size of your building and cooking habits of your building - it can range from a few times a year to every two months
4. Communicate with residents
Let residents know why recycling their cooking oil is important for the building’s plumbing and for the environment, and how to do it in your building
- Label the collection area and drum and put up signs to clearly explain how residents should collect their oil and where to leave it.
- Send out messages to residents (using flyers, email, and posters) to advertise the new collection, explain how it works and celebrate the community's new waste reduction service (See our tips on communicating with residents about services).
- Remember to report-back to residents on the success of the program - for example when the first full drum is collected!
- Here is a list of the types of waste to collect in your building.
- Check out our resource on how to set up special waste collection.