Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today kicked off a new cooking oil recycling program in Chinatown. Silver was joined by representatives from the Lower East Side Ecology Center, Asian Americans for Equality and other elected officials at the event, which was held at Jing Fong, one of Chinatown's largest restaurants and the first business to volunteer to participate in the initiative.
Earlier this year, Speaker Silver brought together Chinatown business and community leaders to learn about a cooking oil recycling program that would pick up the cooking oil waste from local restaurants and food purveyors free of charge and then convert it into cleaner fuels for cars and trucks, home heating systems, and generators.
Jing Fong Restaurant, the first business to volunteer to participate in this initiative, will have its cooking oil collected today by RWA Resource Recovery, and it will subsequently be converted into bio-diesel fuel which produces 84 percent less emissions than petroleum-based diesel. Recycling the cooking oil also insures that it stays out of the sewer and storm systems and streets where it can damage pipes and roadway surfaces.
"I am delighted that businesses in my community such as Jing Fong are taking steps to go green by participating in this important program," said Speaker Silver. "This is the beginning of a new relationship between Chinatown businesses, environmental groups, and government that will help clean our air of harmful fumes and clear our waters of waste cooking oil. This program will instantly provide positive change to our environment and I encourage other interested restaurants in Chinatown to sign up for this free program."
For this new program the Doe Fund's RWA Resource Recovery Service made a direct phone line available to provide multilingual service when necessary. Speaker Silver's office will also act as an overflow to this service on demand.
This program is a continuation of Borough President Scott Stringer's Go Green Lower East Side cooking oil initiative that is currently recycling cooking oil from 120 restaurants and eateries all across the Lower East Side.
"One year ago, Speaker Silver and I proudly launched this pilot program in the Lower East Side and today's kickoff celebrates its successful expansion into Chinatown," said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. "This kind of creative thinking is what we need to build a sustainable New York: taking something we have-cooking oil, and turn it into something we need-bio-fuel. I want to thank the Lower East Side Ecology Center and the R-W-A Resource Recovery for bringing it to a beloved hub of New York's restaurant community and now a hub for sustainability."
"Jing Fong is delighted to be a part of this initiative, and we would like to thank Shelly Silver for inviting us to participate," said Tammy Law, manager of Jing Fong Restaurant. "This wonderfully conceived program encourages green business practices, promotes sustainable energy production, provides jobs and makes it easy for businesses to participate."
"This is a great initiative" said Councilmember Margaret Chin. "This program will enable restaurants in our community to be more environmentally friendly while reducing the impact they have on our streets and infrastructure. Now, once my colleagues in government and I can get the streets of Chinatown repaved, they will hopefully stay that way a little longer thanks to this program. I want to thank Speaker Silver and his staff for their hard work on this, and Jing Fong and other restaurants for joining in the program. Hopefully, we can turn Chinatown a little bit more green by taking some of the brown oil off of the streets."
"This cooking oil recycling program is a smart, simple way to conserve and help make our community greener, cleaner, and healthier. I want to thank my colleagues in government, Chinatown community leaders, and Jing Fong for bringing this environmentally friendly program to the community," said Senator Squadron.
The Lower East Side Ecology Center and AAFE are locally based non-profit organizations which strive to make positive environmental changes to our communities. The Ecology Center will administer and oversee the program and AAFE's eco-volunteers will go door-to-door to invite additional Chinatown businesses to participate in this recycling program. Additionally, the volunteers will stencil Chinatown signage that is adjacent to street drains informing people that street run-off goes into the rivers.
"The Lower East Side Ecology Center is so happy to be launching our recycling training and outreach program in Chinatown. Through the education of local students and restaurants, we are not only helping small businesses do the right thing, but we are saving them money and helping our community's water and air quality. Cooking oil recycling is the first step in bringing environmental awareness and opportunities to Chinatown. We look forward to much more to come," said Tara DePorte of LES Ecology Center.
"AAFE is excited to be partnering with Assembly Speaker Silver, Borough President Stringer, the Ecology Center, the Doe Fund, and all the other organizations involved in this initiative," said Chris Kui, Executive Director of AAFE. "Chinatown has one of the highest asthma rates in New York City. This program is not only beneficial to local businesses, but the entire Chinatown community by helping to prevent asthma and reduce rodents and bad smells. Our Teen Action youth are excited to part of this important endeavor."
To encourage more businesses to work towards a greener planet, Speaker Silver helped enact a law that provides tax credits for those who use bio-diesel fuel and produce it. For users of bio-diesel, New York State tax credits can be as high as 20 cents per gallon. For producers of bio-diesel, credits can be as high as 15 cents per gallon.