From regulations to biofuels (and munitions) manufacturing: grease is political

I worked in restaurants from the ages of 12 to 22 and I have worked around food ever since. My wife and I run a farm-to-table food booth at a music festival every Summer. I produced a web series that documented eating in Maine. One of the primary content focuses of my company, Knack Factory, is food and the people and culture that surrounds it.

In all of the time I spent around food, I rarely stopped to think about what, beyond composting, occurs with its byproducts. I interviewed Jarmin Kaltsas and other folks from Maine Standard Biofuels (MSB) for this blog a handful of months ago and that conversation made me think about just that.

From the introduction of my interview with Jarmin:

Maine Standard Biofuels takes used cooking oil from over 800 restaurants from Portland to Boston, they bring it back to their plant, filter it into high grade bio-diesel, and then send it out to local fleets that bring the goods back to the restaurants the oil is sourced from from. The system is very closed loop.

Over at the LiveWork Portland blog I offer a very brief overview of the history of the politics of grease here in Portland. I look back to when the city (along with the rest of the country) was diligent about collecting grease to use for the manufacture of munitions. I touch on the new grease-to-fuel movement, as well as what restauranteurs go through from a regulatory perspective as a means of adhering to regulations. It is a very quick and dirty overview.

From the piece:

Grease is something we often think about in the context of avoidance as a means of preserving our health and fitness. It remains ever-present in our lives, though, particularly for those of us who enjoy going out to eat. According to Maine Standard Biofuels, Portland restaurants produce 1,000,000 gallons of grease every year. 75 years ago that would have been a lot of potential munitions, and now it is a lot of potential sustainable fuel.


Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.