Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Columbia, S.C., spends an estimated $1.5 million and 4,500 staff hours unclogging and cleaning wastewater lines -- expenditures funded by residents through sewer fees. In an attempt to lower the amount of cooking oil gunking up the city's sewer system while also reducing harmful emissions produced by city vehicles, the city is test-running a two-part pilot program. Dubbed Southern Fried Fuel, the program converts used cooking oil, grease and fat -- collected from residents at a drop-off location -- into biodiesel to be used as fuel for city trash trucks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the use of biodiesel fuel has a number of benefits, including improved public and environmental health from reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The (Columbia) State reports that the cooking oil will be donated to a local biodiesel-engineering company and purchased back at approximately $2.52 a gallon. For now, only one of the city's 60 trash trucks will run off of the biodiesel fuel.