Waste Management

A batch of biodiesel that has too much water in it becomes a soapy, spoiled wreck, and isn’t much use to anyone. Past experience dealing with spoiled biodiesel has gone like this:

  • Grumbling
  • Resignation
  • Pouring the soapy mess back into the containers that held the vegetable oil it was made from
  • Attaching blue “Flammable Liquid Disposal” tags with barcodes that indicate that the Biodiesel Project is responsible
  • Hauling the containers down to CHBE Stores, from whence they vanish to Parts Unknown.

Well, where do those containers end up? I decided to find out. I asked the friendly stores clerk, and discovered that chemical wastes on campus are generally dealt with by the Environmental Services Facility (ESF), run by UBC Risk Management. A couple emails later, and I was biking down to the farthest southern part of campus.

The Environmental Services Facility entrance on Nurseries Road.

I thought I was lost, but like the Wizard of Oz, the ESF is just at the end of the road. At the gate, I was met by Mr. Bang Dang and Mr. Valery Kichenko, technicians at the ESF. They gave me a nice tour, demonstrating how they safely collect and dispose of the chemical and biological wastes generated by UBC.

Now that we know what happens to a bad batch of biodiesel, we’ll be accumulating it in a drum, rather than multiple smaller containers. This gives us the chance to re-process it into better biodiesel, along with requiring less packaging if we have to dispose of it.

Thank you Bang and Valeriy for the tour, and for all your hard work in safely dealing with and reducing UBC’s chemical waste.