Rutherford County is asking the public to recycle leftover cooking oil from the holidays instead of throwing it out.
Recycling in Rutherford County has become less of a "can do" activity and more of a "must-do" activity.
"The landfill that we use is going to close in 15 years or less. So if we don't get in that habit by then, we're going to be in a world of trouble," said Rutherford County Solid Waste and Landfill Director Mac Nolen.
Nolen and his department have partnered with Mahoney Environmental to take recycling one step further, collecting used cooking oil and grease, just in time for the holidays.
Mahoney Environmental specializes in recycling cooking byproducts from residents and restaurants.
"We have several facilities that process and clean the oil," said Regional Account Manager Rusty Baggett.
He added, "Then we sell it by the tanker-load to the agricultural industry, biofuel plants, pretty much any company or business that would like to use it for their products."
During World War II, used oil and grease were used to make explosives. Today, the kitchen waste is used to fuel jets.
"It's used in biofuel, soap, animal products like chicken feed and feeding swine, and even in cosmetics," Baggett said.
Recycling cooking oil not only helps reduce waste. It protects plumbing, as well.
"It's an environmental issue. For drainages going into public utilities, it creates a problem for them. Even if you're in a septic system at home, it creates a problem. We don't really want it to go to the landfill because they don't like liquids and it's a contaminate," explained Nolen.
Several cities across the country have developed campaigns to educate the public about fats, oils, and grease, often shortened to FOG, which refer to cooking byproducts like meat fat and butter.
The purpose of the video and similar campaigns is to encourage proper waste disposal like recycling.
"This is not a finished product, once you're finished cooking with it. It can be used, as what we mentioned before, in other products. That would be the end use," Baggett said of the oils and grease.
Currently, Mahoney Environmental is only working with Rutherford County through the month of January. However, if things go well, the recycling efforts could be expanded in the county and other surrounding municipalities.
The three convenience centers accepting drop-offs are:
Weakley Lane Convenience Center, 125 Weakley Lane, Smyrna
Walter Hill Convenience Center, 870 Jefferson Pike, Murfreesboro
Rock Crusher Convenience Center, 3827 Shelbyville Highway, Murfreesboro
Each is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.
They will be closed for the holidays from December 23 to December 25 and January 1.
Davidson County residents can drop off items at Omohundro Convenience Center located at 1019 Omohundro Place, Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A valid Davidson County identification is required for drop off.