By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City accepting fat, oil, & grease at treatment plant facility to help turn food waste into fuel
One reason it is illegal to pour fat, oil, and grease down the drain is it can clog pipes and create environmental issues.

That Happy Meal you buy your kid at McDonald’s generates FOG.

And it’s not the type of fog romanticized by poet Carl Sandburg’s line “the fog comes on little cat feet.”

Instead it is the fat, oil and grease (FOG) generated by frying the burger on the grill and deep frying the French fries.

Pouring it down the drain is a big no-no as it plays havoc with the wastewater treatment plant and has a nasty tendency to clog pipes.

Until now the firms — and cities — that collect FOG from Northern California restaurants and other commercial cooking facilities had to truck it to Oakland for it to be recycled.

They now have a new choice — one that Public Works Director Mark Houghton has quipped is “Manteca’s very own oil refinery” — the city’s wastewater treatment plant that had been modified to convert food waste into fuel.

The Manteca City Council tonight is expected to approve rates that will be charged per 1,000 gallons of FOG accepted at the West Yosemite Avenue treatment plant. The plan is to charge $100 per 1,000 gallons of FOG collected within the city and $125 for the same amount from areas outside the city. The rate will be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index starting in March 2021.

Vendors will be required to meet minimum standards in regards to FOG quality. Those that fail to meet that standard will be prohibited from discharging at the treatment plant for a minimum of two years.

The charges will help to offset the costs of converting FOG to fuel.

The city has been picking up food waste placed in orange carts from supermarkets, restaurants, and schools and combining it with methane gas generated from the treatment of wastewater to create compressed liquefied gas to fuel city solid waste trucks with engines designed to run on biofuels. Once the city replaces all two dozen plus of its solid waste trucks it will accomplish several things:

It will save on fuel purchase costs of between $500,000 and $1 million annually.

The elimination of diesel powered trucks means Manteca’s solid waste fleet will meet and exceed clean air standards.

The need to burn off methane gas produced in the wastewater treatment process will be almost entirely eliminated to substantially reduce air pollution created by the Manteca plant.

the city will be significantly ahead of the curve compared to other cities when it comes to meeting state mandated food waste diversions from landfills as well as air quality standards.

Manteca is working on other projects that will help make the wastewater treatment process more cost effective for ratepayers as well as to enhance recycling of solid waste.

The city is in the process of putting together a solar farm at the treatment plant that could generate more than 2.5 megawatts to help power the process. The treatment plant is the city’s biggest electricity user by a wide margin.

Manteca is also in the preliminary stages of looking at the possibility of building its own sorting facilities for recyclables. That would allow it to have more control over what happens to recyclables and avoiding them from being buried — whenever possible — at a landfill that can be an expensive process.

The city is also exploring a composting operation that would combine residential food waste, yard debris, and items such as newspapers and boxes such as those used for cereal and such. The city would then use the compost for city parks and such. In doing so, the city will eliminate being at the whims of the international markets for recycled materials.

The Manteca City Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email