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Waste Oil Recyclers Inc. Converts Vegetable Oil to Biodiesel
Published: Wednesday, April 22, 2009, Daily Local - West Chester, PA


Standing with huge vats of recyclable oil are, from left, Jim Bricker, Robert Mastrippolito and Brendan Steer. Their company spent a lot of time experimenting and perfecting the process of filtering and cleaning the waste oil to produce a high-quality, free-fatty acid low in moisture.

MODENA — A complex of aged industrial buildings that sat vacant for years is being reborn as a center of green industry featuring a waste oil recycling plant, an organic potting soil company and an organic landscaping business.

This small, green corner of the borough on a street that the borough recently renamed Phoenix Court is the brainchild of the founders of Waste Oil Recyclers Inc.

The company takes waste vegetable oil produced by hundreds of fryers in the kitchens of restaurants, schools and institutions and produces a high-quality vegetable oil that refineries turn into biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a blend of 1 percent to 100 percent vegetable oil to petroleum diesel.

Business has been good. Until six months ago, regular diesel fuel was selling for more than $5 a gallon. The company has seen its volume in terms of the number of gallons processed a year nearly triple in the last year, said Robert Mastrippolito, one of the three owners, in an interview at their plant Monday.

More waste oil is coming in from restaurants that like the environmental advantages of a product that can be recycled to create fuel.

More refineries that used to only use virgin oil for biodiesel are now using recycled waste oil, which is much cheaper.

Biodiesel is also getting a push from the state, which has mandated that by January 2010 all diesel fuel will have to be B2, which is 2 percent vegetable oil to 98 percent petroleum diesel fuel.

Jim Bricker, another owner, said they used to sell their recycled vegetable oil to refineries in the South, and now refineries in the North, including in Chester, Pa., and New York, purchase it.

The company spent a lot of time experimenting and perfecting the process of filtering and cleaning the waste oil to produce a high-quality, free-fatty acid low in moisture that the refineries want.

The product is used to power the company's own multi-fuel boiler as well as its own trucks.

While the company only sells to large users such as the refineries, the owners are looking to the day when they will be able to sell smaller quantities to people who have multi-fuel boilers to heat homes or as a fuel for vehicles.

When the company was founded about three years ago, the whole operation could fit in one room. With the development of the technology to clean the oil, the company needed more room and didn't have far to look.

"From our old office, we used to sit on the loading dock and look at this old, rusting hulk," said Bricker. The main building on the 3.6-acre site used to be a metal foundry that made cast iron items. The former owner, a paving contractor, just used it to store materials.

When they saw the "for sale" sign go up, they made an offer.

In November, the sale went through. and the borough helped them get the permits. Besides the three owners, the company has four full-time and three part-time workers.

With more room than it needed, the company looked about for tenants who shared the vision of a sustainable planet.

It found Organic Mechanical Soil Co. and Grass Roots Organics. Organic Mechanical produces an organic potting soil (See story, Page A5). Grass Roots is a start-up landscaping company that applies organic fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides.

To contact staff writer Anne Pickering, send an e-mail to