Should You Be Guarding Your Old Fry Oil?

(Photo: likeyourhandle)

This seems like a relatively hard way for a thief to earn a living, but a 38-year-old New Yorker has been arrested for siphoning off used cooking oil from a pair of restaurants in Connecticut. From the Westport News:

Until two or three years ago, restaurateurs had to pay to get rid of used fry grease. Now they are able to sell it to a few companies in the area, who turn it into bio fuel that can be used to heat houses or operate diesel engines. …

Grease can be worth as much as $1.60 per gallon, police said following a similar investigation in Norwalk about two weeks ago. Police seized a large tanker truck in that investigation, but no arrests have been made.

The thief’s van contained two 275-gallon tanks, which would put his maximum haul at roughly $880. According to this 2008 Times article on grease rustling, the going price was nearly $2.50 a gallon.

I am curious to hear from any buyers or sellers (or thieves) of used grease to learn their going prices.


Simpsons did it.


Just like most things, this was a Simpson's episode:


Groundskeeper Willy (in his Scottish accent): My retirement grease!!


lol- the simpsons was sweet :)


Shouldn't that be a haul of $880?


Stephen J. Dubner

Fixed, thanks.


makes you wonder what type of waste we will be selling in the future as well. if you'd know upfront, you could make a killing.


Given the aging of the Baby Boomers and the ongoing steady supply of newborns, I would start collecting disposable diapers.


I have always asked first before taking, but I have collected well over 2,000 gallons of used vegetable oil for use as a diesel replacement fuel while traveling the western US. Did this back in 2003-2004.

Chinese and Japanese restaurants usually have the best oil. Places that make lots of breaded and fried things are the worst. Some of those oil dumpsters seriously smell like corpses. Definitely turned me off from Golden Corral!

richard d

they did it in fight club too, although they wanted human fat.


I've done Sales and Market Research work for one of the national companies that collects and recycles (resells) 'used cooking oil' (they prefer this term over 'grease' when marketing their services to local restaurants and national chains.)

The current price per pound for 'Yellow Grease' is between 0.30 - 0.36 USD (Yellow Grease is the most likely of several purity categories that the finished product would be sold as.) The price fluctuates daily. The current prices are near historic highs. And grease thieves or 'pirates' are nothing new to the industry. The amount mentioned in the article is actually small compared to most thefts. (Most are tanker truck scale.)

If you would like more details please let me know. It is rare that friends or family ever want to hear these details...let alone journalists.


On 3-6-12 Yellow Grease is trading between 0.35- 0.440 USD per pound
On 3-5-12 Yellow Grease is trading between 0.35- 0.430 USD per pound
On 3-2-12 Yellow Grease is trading between 0.35- 0.435 USD per pound
On 2-28-12 Yellow Grease is trading between 0.30- 0.43 USD per pound


Around $0.30 is about right, but restaurants also have a grease trap that needs regular servicing and cleaning. This is a stinky nasty job and the recyling company does this free in trade for the grease.