Sevier COunty, TN Composting Trash

Where Does All the Trash from Dollywood Go? To One of the World’s Best Composting Facilities

Sevier County, Tenn., diverts 70 percent of waste from landfills—and it’s becoming more efficient all the time.


All photos by Erin L. McCoy.



When you think about progressive composting and recycling programs, big cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles might come to mind—yet one of the most efficient composting facilities in the world is in Appalachian Tennessee.

Because of this plant, the majority of the county’s waste is composted or recycled.

Sevier County, Tennessee, is home to the twin tourist destinations of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and attracts more than 11 million visitors per year. Gatlinburg is a quaint mountain town packed with quirky stores, restaurants, moonshine shops, and an aquarium. Pigeon Forge is home to the Dollywood amusement park. These towns are poised at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which covers roughly a third of the county.

Perhaps it’s this proximity to the natural world that helped inspire Sevier County’s unique approach to waste disposal. When it opened in 1991, the Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility was one of the first in the world to use rotating drums, or “digesters,” for breaking down compost. Because of this plant, the majority of the county’s waste is composted or recycled. Today, it’s still a rare breed.

“There’s about 12 or so [composting facilities] in the world like this,” explains Tom Leonard, general manager of Sevier Solid Waste. “Every one of them has gotten some design feature from here, because we’re one of the oldest.”

As we walk around the facility, Leonard points to a grassy rise in the distance. “That back there is our old Class 1 landfill, but we don’t use it anymore.”

Measures of success

About 100,000 tons of solid waste and treated sewage pass through this facility every year—and an astounding 70 percent is diverted from landfills by being composted or recycled. That’s compared to 34.5 percent of all U.S. waste that was diverted in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. San Francisco, declared the greenest city in America by the Siemens Green City Index, recycled 77 percent of its waste in 2010, but was the only North American city of the 27 listed in the index to recycle more than Sevier County.

The county’s waste diversion rate becomes even more impressive when Leonard explains that 99 percent of the county’s waste is diverted from its Class 1 landfill—the most environmentally harmful type, requiring heavy lining to prevent runoff, careful regulatory oversight, and decades of maintenance. Garbage in these landfills is eventually covered up, but it never really goes away, Leonard says.

“I just don’t like the word ‘forever,’ because that’s a long time. So what we’re doing is, we’re stabilizing the material back down to its form, and our ultimate goal is not to put anything from this plant into a landfill.”

“Our ultimate goal is not to put anything from this plant into a landfill.”

Another unique component to Sevier County’s approach: residents and businesses aren’t required to separate recyclables from their daily waste. There are no recycling bins for home pickup, and the only items people are required to separate are construction and demolition materials, electronics, and tires. The separation of recyclables happens on the back end, as a part of the composting process. (While cardboard can be composted, citizens are asked to separate it because it makes more money for the county as recycled cardboard than as compost.)

In the end, this facility is financially self-sustaining, thanks in part to the money saved by not sending waste to a Class 1 landfill, where most non-recyclable waste in the U.S. ends up. A great deal of money is also saved on transporting garbage to landfills, which are often far away from pickup locations because of the challenges of finding affordable, usable land.

The facility also ensures that waste management is relatively affordable for the county and its cities; the cost of handling waste is $40 per ton, lower than the national average. In Sevier County, these costs are covered in part through a $12-per-month fee for curbside pickup. The Waste Business Journal reported that the average cost to place a ton of municipal solid waste into a landfill in 2012 was $44.23.

Meanwhile, individuals get free compost, with the rest being used for city and county projects such as road maintenance.

The recipe for compost

The tourist industry posed a unique dilemma when Sevier County administrators began seeking new waste disposal options in the late 1980s: “Because so much of our waste stream comes from our millions of visitors that come to the county every year, it’s almost impossible to get them to recycle in the way that we’d need them to,” explains Larry Waters, who has been Sevier County mayor since 1978. The county is home to nearly 94,000 people, a population dwarfed by the huge volume of tourists.

County administrators visited other sites where composting strategies had been implemented and ultimately contracted with Bedminster Bio-Conversion to build the original facility and operate it for the first few years.

Waters says that the county was the first to install a facility of this type. “We were pretty nervous about that—whether or not it was going to meet our needs and do what we needed it to do.”

However, the Sevier County facility would soon become a model for other, similar composting plants throughout the world. What’s more, the tourist industry proved to be a key advantage, since the high volumes of restaurant food waste are great for compost.

“For us, [composting and recycling] is not only the right thing to do, it financially makes sense for us to do it, so it’s exciting.”

Today, the Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility receives visitors from around the globe, seeking to gain insights from what Sevier County has learned through trial and error. More efficient processes and technologies have been developed over the lifetime of the facility, and even today operators are always on the lookout for better approaches, Leonard says.

Constant improvement is on Leonard’s mind as he guides me through the facility. We walk inside a huge structure covered with corrosion-resistant plastic, where broken-down materials are pulled from the ends of 185-foot-long cylindrical digesters that rotate slowly.

After three days, materials are pulled out of the digesters and placed onto a conveyor belt, which carries them into the next room. There, they’ll be sifted for glass and recyclables, then laid out into windrows for roughly 37 days. Windrows are narrow, long piles of material that are turned regularly to improve aeration and aid the breakdown into compost.

For all the streamlining this process has undergone, Leonard is today preoccupied with resolving two problems: First, he needs to reduce the moisture in these massive rooms of windrowed compost—not so much that the microorganisms breaking down the compost die, but enough to make it easier to separate glass from the moist compost. It’ll mean more glass recycling in the long run, and will increase the amount and quality of compost the facility can produce.

The second problem is how to make more efficient use of the plastics the facility collects. Many of them can be recycled, but there may be a more financially and environmentally efficient way to put them to use. Leonard believes this problem may soon be resolved with the type of innovative approach that has become the norm here. He hopes to sign a contract with the technology company PHG Energy soon, in the hopes of starting to convert used plastics into fuel within a year.

“We can produce about 6 megawatts of power from just our plastics,” Leonard says, enough to power about 2,400 homes per year.

“For us, [composting and recycling] is not only the right thing to do, it financially makes sense for us to do it, so it’s exciting,” Leonard says.


About 300 tons of garbage a day pass through the 188,000-square-foot Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and this tipping floor is where that garbage is first collected. The floor is enclosed by a woven, corrosion-resistant plastic. Garbage is funneled through five pits in the tipping floor and into up to five “digesters,” which are long, cylindrical drums that rotate 24 hours a day.

“Paper, food waste, cardboard—anything that’s organic can be broken down in our system,” explains Tom Leonard, general manager of the facility. Biosolids from the local wastewater treatment plant are also mixed in, and help contribute to the microorganisms that will eventually break down waste into compost.


Leonard explains how the composting process gets started. The tipping floor is where municipal waste and biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant are first collected before they’re funneled into rotating “digester” drums, which start the composting process.


Leading from the tipping floor to another enclosed structure, digesters rotate 24 hours a day. It takes three days for garbage to travel 185 feet along these drums. The three larger digesters are 14 feet in diameter, and two more measure 12 feet in diameter; all are slightly tilted toward the building where compost will eventually be removed.

“Basically, it’s breaking up all those bags and allowing all that stuff to mix together, so now you can get all your organics, all your food waste and paper waste, all mixing together, and then the bugs can start working on that,” Leonard explains. Microorganisms are naturally occurring in the garbage and sewage that enter the digesters. The process is aerobic, so air is blown into the digesters to keep the microorganisms alive and well.

The process of breaking down the waste creates a lot of energy, increasing temperatures in the middle of the digesters to between 160 or 170 degrees.


“They turn 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so about one revolution a minute,” explains Leonard, showcasing the digesters that kick-start the composting process. The functionality of these digesters has been improved over the years through trial and error, and now they serve as models for composting plants around the world.


Leonard points out the ends of the digesters, where garbage is removed after three days of constant rotation. By this time, much of the garbage resembles compost, but large pieces of plastic, metal, and other items that can’t be broken down into compost remain. The material that comes out of the digesters is transported by conveyer belt into the next room, where it’s sifted to remove larger items.

Construction materials such as wire, carpet, hoses, and large pieces of plastic aren’t allowed in everyday trash, since they can clog up the digester.

After the garbage is sifted, “there’s no organics left,” Leonard says. “It’s inert material, so it goes into a Class 3 landfill, which takes construction, demolition, vinyl siding, plastic, glass windows.” Leachate—runoff that has passed through waste and often carries elements and chemicals from that waste as a result—is minimal in Class 3 and Class 4 landfills, meaning these landfills are less harmful to the environment.


Most organic materials have started to break down into compost after three days in the digesters, but recyclables such as the metal can that Leonard is pictured with here still need to be sifted out. The conveyer belt to Leonard’s right transports the materials to a primary trommel screen, which sifts the materials that come out of the digesters down to a 1-inch diameter. In this way, items like recyclable cans and plastics are separated.


After larger items are filtered out, remaining organics are laid out in windrows—long rows of compost pictured at left. Compost in the windrows will be turned twice a day over a period of about five weeks.

Leonard holds finely sifted compost after it’s passed through a final trommel screen, which sifts down the compost to particles not larger than a quarter-inch in diameter. The sifting process helps to separate glass from the organic material. That glass can be recycled later. One of the biggest challenges the Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility faces today is managing the moisture in the area of the windrows: it needs to be moist enough to keep the compost breaking down, but dry enough so that glass can be better separated from the compost. The better it separates, the more can be recycled.


Though cardboard can break down into compost, Sevier Solid Waste asks customers to separate it, since it has more value when sold for recycling. It can be sold at about $100 to $125 per ton. Sevier County has plenty of cardboard waste, too, because of the many restaurants catering to the county’s large tourism industry.


After about 40 days, what was once considered trash has become finely sifted, nutrient-rich compost. “Sixty percent of everything that comes in goes out as compost … and is used on farms, goes back to the earth,” explains Leonard, who is pictured holding the final product here. An added bonus: individuals can come and pick up bags of compost for free.

“That’s one way the citizens can see that we can make something useful out of this waste,” says Larry Waters, Sevier County mayor.


Old Cassette Tapes Make Sound Fashion

Sonic Fabric Recycles Cassette Tapes

Jun 14, 2013 09:32 AM ET // by Jesse Emspak

Tape cassettes seem are like endangered species: not often seen in the wild and on their way to extinction. Conceptual artist Alyce Santoro has come up with a way to use the tape, appeal to fashion and create a whole new way of making music at the same time.

She mixed strips of the old 1/8-inch audio tape with polyester fibers to create a material called “sonic fabric.” The tape and polyester are woven together on a loom — fittingly, older technology seems to work better on audio tape. The audio tape retains its magnetization, which means it can play sounds. The tape, Santoro told DNews, is actually new — it comes from a company that makes audiobooks.

“Hearing” the fabric requires running a cassette player’s tape heads across the clothing. The tape heads pick up the patterns of the magnetic fields on the tape and makes a sound. The original recording cannot be heard because the tape has been woven in with other material. Instead, one hears a kind of warbling tone.

Santoro didn’t stop there. She posted a YouTube video that shows how to take apart an old Sony Walkman and make it into a player. (It involves detaching the tape head and inserting a piece of wood under the “play” button, so the head faces outward). One design on her website even has the Walkman built into a glove, which would “play” the clothes as the wearer runs her hands across them. In 2003 she made a “percussion suit” for Jon Fishman, of the band Phish, who played it at one of the band’s live shows.

Then there’s putting specific sounds on the tape. Rather than deal with the randomness of salvaged cassettes, Santoro designed fabrics that have specific tones recorded on them, such as 131.6 hertz, or C-sharp.

Fashion, recycling, and a little 80s nostalgia – you can’t beat that.

via CNN

Credit: Photo courtesy Alysa Santoro


Hawaii to Ban Plastic Bags


First Statewide Ban of Plastic Bags

July 26 2012

Story at-a-glance

  • In a first of its kind move in the United States, the residents of Hawaii have collectively said “No!” to plastic bags; a ban is slated to take effect July 1, 2015
  • Los Angeles recently became the largest city in the United States to ban plastic bags at supermarket checkout lanes
  • Several other cities in California have already banned plastic bags, as have Seattle, Washington and Aspen, Colorado
  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they break down into smaller and smaller bits, contaminating waterways and putting marine life, who mistake the plastic for food, at risk
  • Only about 1-5 percent of plastic bags are recycled; there’s also little economic incentive to do so
  • You don’t need to wait for a legislative ban to come to your area – you can enact your own “ban” starting today

By Dr. Mercola

In a first-of-its-kind move in the United States, the residents of Hawaii have collectively said “No!” to plastic bags.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle penned the crowning achievement when he signed a bill banning the bags beginning July 1, 2015.

While Honolulu’s new law does have some exceptions, like plastic bags for newspaper delivery, frozen foods and flowers, within three years Hawaii will be the first state in the union to have banned the vast majority of the bags everywhere in the state.

Is It Time to Say Goodbye to the Plastic Bag?

In Hawaii, the ban was accomplished by each of the state’s counties banning them on an individual basis, rather than by a state law. Carlisle’s signature in the last county to ban the bags completed the act of essentially making it a statewide rule without ever having to go before the state legislature.

Some of the bans are already in place or scheduled to begin next year, with fines of up to $1,000 for each day of violation. The plastic bag issue is particularly important for Hawaii as it is in the middle of the ocean and it is very easy for bags to blow into the ocean.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles became the largest city in the United States to ban plastic bags at supermarket checkout lanes. The city gave stores 16 months to phase them out, at which time shoppers will have to bring their own reusable bags or pay 10 cents for each paper bag.

The trend seems to be picking up speed. San Jose, San Francisco, Pasadena, Monterey, Long Beach, and other cities in California have already banned them. Seattle, Washington’s bag ban, which was passed in December 2011, took effect in July 2012, and other areas, such as Aspen, Colorado, have adopted similar bans.

Around the world, countries including China and Ireland are taking a stand against the use of these highly polluting bags, adopting measures ranging from bans to fees on plastic bags in order to reduce their use. Bag taxes can also be incredibly effective. Washington DC put into effect a 5-cent tax on plastic bags two years ago, and the number of plastic bags given by businesses to customers dropped from 22.5 million per month in 2009 to a mere 3 million per month, almost as soon as the tax went into effect.

In Illinois, however, a bill is on the table (SB 34421) that requires plastic bag recycling programs, but would make it illegal for any city in the state to ban the use of plastic bags — and it’s currently waiting a decision from the governor.

Shocking Statistics About Plastic Bag Waste

For a succinct and entertaining introduction to the waste that is the plastic bag, I highly recommend the film “Bag It.”2 It is a truly eye-opening look to the vastness of the problem, and the immense waste that could be spared if more Americans toted a reusable bag with them to the grocery store. As their web site reports:3

“In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. The United States International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. in 2009. These bags, even when properly disposed of, are easily windblown and often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and degrading soil and water quality as they break down into toxic bits.

Their manufacture, transportation and disposal require large quantities of non-renewable resources and release equally large amounts of global-warming gases.”

On a worldwide scale, each year about 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. At over 1 million bags per minute, that’s a lot of plastic bags, of which billions end up as litter each year, contaminating oceans and other waterways.

Plastic Bag Bits are Now Taking Over Our Oceans

Plastic bags, like the petroleum they are made from, don’t biodegrade very well at all, rather, they photodegrade. Meaning, they break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits, which contaminate soil and waterways, and enters the food chain — animals accidentally eat these bits and pieces, mistaking them for food. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):4

“Studies have shown that fish and other marine life do eat plastic. Plastics could cause irritation or damage to the digestive system. If plastics are kept in the gut instead of passing through, the fish could feel full (of plastic not food) and this could lead to malnutrition or starvation.

… Plastic debris accumulates persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) up to 100,000 to 1,000,000 times the levels found in seawater (Mato et al. 2001). Oceanic fragments have also tested positive for other POPs, such as DDT, PAHs, and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Many of these pollutants, such as PCBs and DDTs, are known endocrine disruptors and developmental toxicants.”

The problem is so severe that multiple plastic “stews” have formed in the oceans. Scientists have dubbed one of the masses of plastic bags, jugs, bottles, nets, and other plastic junk the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” and its volume is growing at an alarming pace.  In some areas, it’s said that there are 40 times more plastic in the water than plankton!5

Of course, plastic bags aren’t only a problem in the oceans; they’re a problem on land, too. It’s estimated that plastic bag use in the United States create 300,000 tons of landfill waste each year, and those chemical-laden materials will not stay contained forever.

According to the Clean Air Council:6

“The barriers of all landfills will eventually break down and leak leachate into ground and surface water. Plastics are not inert, and many landfill liners and plastic pipes allow chemicals and gases to pass through while still intact.”

Is Recycling the Answer?

Recycling is clearly better than tossing a plastic bag in the trash, but the truth is that only about 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled7 and some estimates place that at closer to 1 percent. This isn’t only a matter of consumers not playing their part: the truth is that plastic bag recycling isn’t profitable like say, aluminum cans. It reportedly costs $4,000 to process and recycle one ton of plastic bags, which have a market value of only $32!8 And, adding insult to industry, many plastic bags that are recycled are shipped to China to do so, another major waste of energy. reported:9

“Many plastic bags collected for recycling are wastefully shipped to overseas processing facilities. According to a 2007 American Chemistry Council report, 10 the U.S. exports 57% of its postconsumer recovered film to China (25% of which consists of plastic bags, contained under the blanket term “mixed film”) where there once were “thousands” of plastic processing centers.

However, when the economic downturn happened in late 2008, many of these Chinese plastic processors went out of business. Bottom line: there is a glut of this material that is not getting recycled, leaving material recovery facilities with bales of collected recyclable plastic with no one to sell it to.”

Ready to Ditch Plastic Bags?

Plastic bags may seem like an insignificant issue, but they add up significantly over time. This is one area where virtually everyone can have a dramatic impact for change, especially if you encourage your friends, family and neighbors to follow your lead. You don’t need to wait for a legislative ban to come to your area – you can enact your own “ban” starting today. Top tips for ditching plastic bags, and other forms of plastic waste, include:

  • Carry reusable shopping bags – keep them in the trunk of your car, or stash a couple of the small fold-up varieties in your purse so you’re always prepared
  • Avoid plastic produce bags – put the produce right into your reusable cloth bag instead
  • Use reusable cloth bags for packaging your child’s school lunch and snacks
  • Ditch bottled water – opt for reusable glass or stainless steel bottles instead
  • Buy milk and other beverages in reusable glass bottles





Okabashi Sandals — Recycled and Recyclable

Okabashi Closes the Loop on Sandal Recycling

by 02/10/12

recycled shoes, sandals, flip-flops, sandal recyclingOkabashi’s line of sandals and flip-flops not only contain up to 25 percent recycled plastic, but can be returned to the company for recycling at the end of their useful lives. Photo: Okabashi

Shoes made from recycled materials are not a new green fashion trend: New BalancePuma and even Manolo Blahnik have all turned waste into new kicks.

But Georgia-based Okabashi goes a step further: Not only are its sandals and flip-flops made from recycled plastic, but the company also takes back its old shoes for recycling at the end of their useful lives.

Okabashi’s line of sandals, which comes in an assortment of styles and colors, are molded from a blend of plastics called Microplast, making them vegan-friendly. While the amount of recycled content in each shoe depends on the material available, an average pair of Okabashi sandals contains 15-25 percent recycled plastic.

When customers are ready to retire a pair of well-worn Okabashis, they can mail their shoes back to the company’s Buford, Ga. factory and receive a coupon for their next purchase. Okabashi’s team cleans the old shoes, grinds them down and blends the recycled plastic pieces with new plastic. The workers then remold the plastic mixture to produce a new pair of sandals, achieving a closed-loop recycling process.

The company also incorporates the plastic scraps leftover from production into the plastic mixture to make new shoes, making their manufacturing process virtually waste-free. The 2 percent of re-ground material that Okabashi can’t recycle in its factory is sent to a partner company to be made into other plastic products.

According to Okabashi, the company recycled over 100,000 pounds of plastic last year, diverting 10 tractor trailers full of waste from landfills.

Priced at $20 or less, each Okabashi sandal is designed for optimal comfort, featuring a massaging insole, arch support and ergonomic foot beds.


On Getting Rid of Plastic Bags

Cities Take Up the “Ban the Bag” Fight

Why new policies across the nation could mean the end of plastic bags.
posted Dec 19, 2011


Plastic Bag photo by Kate Ter Haar

Photo by Kate Ter Haar.

Environmental activists are reducing plastic waste pollution by tackling disposable plastic bags, one city at a time. About 20 U.S. cities and towns have passed disposable bag reduction laws, including San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Whether they impose a nominal fee for single-use, disposable bags, or ban them altogether, the laws encourage consumers to develop habits to replace disposable bags, particularly those made from plastic.

The most recent city to join the effort to ban the bag is Portland, Ore., which has banned single-use plastic bags at the checkouts of large retailers. The change was met with overwhelming support from most Portlanders, says Stiv Wilson of 5 Gyres Institute, who helped give out free reusable bags at grocery stores to ease the transition for shoppers on October 15, when the ban took effect.

The Portland ordinance, unanimously approved by Portland City Council, was the culmination of a four-year campaign by the Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter, 5 Gyres Institute, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. It reflects growing public concern about the environmental impact of disposable plastic.

“Plastic bags typically have a low recycling rate, seem to be littered often and have an easy alternative in reusable bags,” says Bill Hickman, coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation’s “Rise Above Plastics” program. “We hope that people understand some of the unintended consequences that go along with a disposable lifestyle.”

plastic bag still
The Majestic Plastic Bag
The epic journey of a plastic bag from its release into the wild to ultimate destination in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Disposable shopping bags are a significant source of plastic pollution in the oceans, where scientists have identified five huge gyres of “plastic soup.” “We’ve reached a tipping point where we can’t keep up with the stuff that’s in the ocean,” says Wilson, who has visited three of the gyres for research. “I’ve seen it firsthand, and it’s startling.”

Proponents of ban-the-bag ordinances have faced powerful industry-backed counter-campaigns. The American Chemistry Council, a trade group representing plastics manufacturers, defeated legislation for a statewide ban on single-use bags in California, and spent $1.4 million in Seattle in 2008 to defeat a referendum that would have imposed a 20-cent fee on disposable grocery bags. Plastic bag manufacturer and recycler Hilex Poly Company funded a campaign that defeated Oregon’s proposed statewide ban earlier this year.

Campaigners hope the success of municipal ordinances will motivate grocers to support statewide bans in the near future.


Cooking Oil to Heat Your Home

Used Cooking Oil to Power U.K. Homes

Published on November 1st, 2011
Liverpool, England, Merseyside, travel, boat, barge, river, shipping

The Federation of Fish Fryers in the U.K. estimates that one out of every four British potatos becomes part of a fish and chips dinner. That’s 1.25 million tons every year and a whole lot of cooking oil. Photo: Flickr/ Nigel’s Europe

Creative greenies have found some pretty cool applications for used cooking oil. It powers bus fleetshelps people travel the world and can even be used to heat your home. This month, Merseyside, England is taking recycled oil even further by using it to power local homes.

Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA), its contractor Veolia Environmental Services and green energy firm Living Fuels are teaming up to collect waste oil, refine it and produce a patented bioliquid, waste management officials said.

Living Fuels will use the bioliquid to power specially-designed engines and supply power to the national grid – a move that waste management officials said will provide renewable energy, help keep the community clean and save U.K. water companies millions of pounds per year.

Cooking oil is a common household waste product in Merseyside, thanks to all those yummy fish and chips platters. And many residents simply pour their used oil down the sink – which gunks up local sewer systems and contaminates the environment, officials said.

Water companies in the U.K. currently spend £15 million a year clearing used cooking oil from their sewers, and 75 percent of the 200,000 drain clearance call-outs every year involve cooking oil, according to MWDA.

“Millions of pounds are being tipped down the drain every year as a direct result of pouring cooking oil into the sink,” said Joe De’Asha, chairperson of MWDA. “As well as removing this waste product from the environment we’re also helping to create energy. So, residents can be doubly pleased they’re helping clean up Merseyside.”

Collection tanks have been fitted at the region’s 14 household waste recycling centers, where residents can bring their leftover cooking oil rather than pouring it down the drain. Holding about 330 gallons, each tank will produce enough electricity to power one average home for an entire year, according to Living Fuels.

“Since we started out three years ago we’ve collected enough waste oil to power 5,000 UK homes for a year. But we can still do much, much more,” said Rob Murphy, operations director for Living Fuels.

The company has been collecting cooking oil from U.K. businesses since 2008, and executives said they are thrilled to have Merseyside as a partner to rescue more waste oil from landfills and water supplies.

Cooking oil recycling will be available to all Merseyside residents, including households in Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St. Helens and Wirral