‘Sustainability’ Gone Awry: China Turns Sewer Waste Into Cooking Oil

Take Part – by Willy Blackmore

Considering the rampant amount of food waste that occurs in America, the move toward thriftiness in regards to utilizing scraps and leftovers is a promising development.

For restaurants (and home cooks) who work with whole animals, from chickens to 300 pound hogs, rendering the fat from scraps of meat is one delicious way to make sure as much of the animal can be utilized as possible.

In China, however, that mentality has been taken to disgusting, dangerous ends in what’s known at the Gutter Oil Industry.

In a video posted on AlterNet, produced by Radio Free Asia, a woman is shown pulling slop out of the sewer, scooping up globs of crud into a bucket. “Her slop eventually winds up in a processing plant like this one,” says the narrator, the screen showing a bubbling vat, “where its combined with other animal fat refuse to create recycled cooking oil.”

Remember London’s “fatberg”? Gutter oil is basically a rendered, refined cooking oil based on similar such waste. Unsurprisingly, the cheap cooking oil has been found to contain carcinogens and other toxins. But in China, oil, a requisite for wok-cooking, is in high demand, and the cheap price of gutter oil draws customers despite the grease’s source. The video says that an estimated 1/10 of oil sold in China is gutter oil.

And that sizable market means this form of recycling is big (albeit illegal) business. As AlterNet’s Rod Bastanmehr notes, the government recently moved to shutdown black market production in 13 cities.

“The shutdown occurred after a five-month investigation yielded a reported 3,200 tons of gutter oil,” Bastanmehr writes, “which authorities estimated had been sold to a staggering $1.6 million profit.”


4 thoughts on “‘Sustainability’ Gone Awry: China Turns Sewer Waste Into Cooking Oil

    1. Reminds me of eating truck stop Chinese food. If they’re boiling this s@#t in China, you can bet your last pair of chop sticks they’re boiling the s@#t here as well.

  1. Uck! I was sitting here eating fresh and warm from the oven bread slathered with butter churned in the time it took for the bread to rise and bake! And drinking a huge glass of buttermilk. I just lost my desire to munch.

  2. Great! Let all those idiots over there poison each other to death. Maybe if enough of them die, some business can come back to the USA! Nah, even then, there are plenty of other nations where slave labor is readily available.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *