LAIE, Hawaii—At 2,400-student Brigham Young University, Hawaii, dining services was able to take its conversion of fryer oil into biodiesel a step further by using the byproduct of that conversion to make its own hand soap.
David Keala, director of food services, said the idea came about after the department’s relationship with Hawaii Reserves Inc., the company that converts the fryer oil into biodiesel, was so successful.
“We were working with Hawaii Reserves Inc. to create biodiesel from our fryer oil like most universities do,” Keala said. “They had mentioned that converting 100 gallons of fuel also resulted in 20 gallons of additional waste material that was determined to be essentially glycerol, which could be turned into liquid soap. They thought if we could use that byproduct material, then it would be a great opportunity to do something different.”
Keala agreed and decided he’d like to involve the university’s science department.
“I asked the science department if they’d like to do a project,” Keala said. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for students in the science department to learn a skill that had some real value in sustainability. The professor in the science department thought it was a great idea. He found a couple of students, and we started doing some tests to turn this material into soap. The results of this process, which also included adding a scent and an antibacterial agent, was a high-grade liquid hand soap.”
After the product was developed, Keala met with the state’s department of health to get approval to use the soap in all foodservice operations.
“When we were all satisfied we came back to foodservice and replaced all our handwashing stations with this product but didn’t tell our employees,” Keala said. “The managers knew, but we wanted to see if there were any comments. We let it run for a couple of months and nobody said anything.”
Once the employees were told about the product, Keala said they were shocked but pleased.
“I think they were excited because it was something everyone had contributed to,” Keala said. “The highlight was that everyone got to see the beginning and the end of the process. We have now completely replaced our previous handwashing liquid. We are currently doing tests on this product to see if we can develop our own laundry
soap. Hopefully we’re going to switch that out.”
Besides being a biodegradable product, the soap has been a great savings to the
“In the past, we used 27 gallons per year or approximately 121,500 milliliters of our old antibacterial hand soap. Foam spray uses less product so we’re saving that way. Plus, we don’t order any product from our vendor, it all comes from our in-house supply. This soap comes to us at approximately a minute fraction of the cost. We’re planning on taking the money that is being saved and creating scholarships for students.”
Keala says discussions are being held to replace all the handwashing stations’ soap throughout the campus with the new soap.