Recycling all that Thanksgiving cooking oil into makeup, soap and more

That Thanksgiving oil has its place.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Michael Carey expects about 100 gallons of used cooking oil to be taken to Orange Coast College’s Recycling Center in the days after Thanksgiving.

Cooking oil, which is taken to a rendering plant from the Costa Mesa college by an Orange-based company, is then recycled for use in makeup, soap, candles, biodiesel, pet food and other products.

“It’s attractive for me because it’s another way to recycle,” said Carey, the college’s environmental and sustainability coordinator. “Taking something that could be thrown into the trash, giving it another life and making it into something new, even though the thought of putting it on your face sounds really gross.”

An additional 50 gallons are expected after Christmas.


What started as a pilot project spearheaded by the Costa Mesa Sanitary District in 2012 to help residents avoid disposal of fats, oils and greases in trash cans and drains has now become a permanent partnership with the college’s refurbished $7.5-million recycling center.

“Grease, specifically from frying a turkey, that’s five gallons of grease — what do you do with it?” said Scott Carroll, general manager of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District.

If poured down the drain, cooking oil and grease can cause blockages that lead to costly damage to lateral sewer lines and the environment, according to the sanitary district.

Residents can pour cooled oil into a sturdy container and take it to OCC’s Recycling Center at 2701 Fairview Road in Costa Mesa.


The center, which accepts used cooking oil year-round, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.