A century-old Birmingham company provides an easy way for JeffCo residents to go green


oil recycling
Now, I know we’re fans of some deep-fried goodness here in Alabama. Only question is—when the meal is over, where does the oil go? Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Jefferson County residents are privy to a pretty unique perk, in addition to all the wonderful benefits that the area has to offer. One Birmingham company that’s been serving Central Alabama for almost 115 years helps make it happen. Check it out!

Get Your Head Out of the FOG

oil recycling
Free oil recycling isn’t something offered in a whole lot of places—this partnership makes it work. Photo courtesy of Jefferson County

When I was a kid, my mom had a Crisco can under the sink that she filled up with leftover grease after she was done cooking. I never really thought twice about it until I started cooking on my own and realized, “Huh. That probably shouldn’t go down the drain of my apartment’s kitchen sink.”

Turns out, not only was that instinct correct, it’s actually a pretty big issue. The items left from cooking at home have a nickname: FOG (Fat, Oil and Grease). According to Jefferson County, FOG causes about 75% of all sewage blockages. This costs Jefferson County hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in repairs.

Thanks to one local partnership, residents in Jefferson County can recycle those leftover materials for free. Here’s how.

Over a Century of Birmingham Business

Birmingham Hide and Tallow
BHT ReSources is currently being led by a third-generation family member, Owen Vickers, who serves the company as Chief Executive Officer and President. Photo courtesy of BHT

At the dawn of the 20th century, Birmingham Hide & Tallow Company, Inc. first opened its doors on historic Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham, Alabama as a small wholesaler of hides, furs and wool.

In the mid-1930s, the Vickers family purchased the business from the original proprietor, and a family tradition was born.

Today, they’re known as BHT ReSources. They play a variety of roles in Alabama, including processing and recycling all household cooking oils that come out of Jefferson County residential homes.

Oil Recycling in Jefferson County Today

oil recycling in Jefferson County
If you’re looking for a friendly face, be sure to make it out to a hazardous materials recycling day. Photo courtesy of Jefferson County

So, what does all this mean for you? Well, because of Jefferson County’s partnership with BHT, JeffCo residents can recycle their household cooking oil for free—and it’s an important thing to do.

Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

  • Edible oil products ONLY (cooking oil or grease)
  • No fuel or motor oil will be accepted
  • Allow oil to cool before pouring into container
  • Pick up a free container (available at each location) or use your own with a sealed lid
  • No glass containers allowed

If you’re looking to drop off other materials in addition to your cooking oils, don’t miss out on the 2020 collection days in Jefferson County. Get all the details below. ⬇️

How to Recycle Your Oil in 6 Easy Steps

oil recycling in Jefferson County
You can find these centers all over JeffCo. Photo courtesy of Jefferson County
  1. Find the recycling center closest to you. There are 22 throughout Jefferson County—you can find a map of locations here.
  2. Drop by a center and pick up a free plastic gallon jug for your grease—or just use one of your own.
  3. Finish cooking and allow the oil and grease to cool (seriously, don’t skip this step).
  4. Once it has cooled, pour the used grease into the container. Pro tip: you can order a funnel for less than $3 on Amazon to make the process easier.
  5. When the container gets as full as you want, just drop it back off at the center at any time.
  6. While you’re there, grab another container and start the process over. It’s as simple as that!

What Happens to the Recycled Oil?

oil recycling in Jefferson County
As you can see, the containers vary a good bit. Feel free to use whatever you have laying around, as long as it’s plastic and can seal! Photo courtesy of Jefferson County

Once the waste material is collected, BHT ReSources takes it to their rendering plant in Bessemer. There, the plant processes oil and grease to remove trash, fines, and other impurities before they undergo a quality control testing process.

The processed oils are sold as used cooking oil in addition to being blended with animal fat to generate yellow grease. In the same facility, BHT ReSources processes raw material into nutritious and safe protein meal that they sell to animal feed manufacturers across the Southeast.

Want to keep up with what’s going on in Jefferson County? Be sure to give them a follow on Facebook or Twitter and never miss an update.

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Beth Cunningham
Beth Cunningham

A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.

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