Kitchen grease may not seem high on the list of valuable items a thief might steal, but the practice has become so widespread and potentially dangerous that the Maryland Department of Agriculture has launched an online registration system to help ensure this hazardous commodity is hauled only by legitimate professionals.
MDA has spent the past year developing its online system to make the registration process efficient and transparent with the hope it will serve as a useful tool for law enforcement officials, according to a press release by the MDA.
The Maryland Waste Kitchen Grease Transporters Program was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 2011. The law requires companies that haul waste kitchen grease to register with MDA and provide identifying information for each vehicle used to transport waste kitchen grease. Individuals who haul relatively small amounts of waste kitchen grease to make biodiesel for their own use are exempt from the registration program.
Waste kitchen grease includes used restaurant cooking oils that are collected and recycled into useful products such as animal feed and biodiesel fuel.
In recent years, waste kitchen grease has become an attractive target for thieves due to rising prices resulting from a strong market demand. Industry representatives supported the registration requirements to make it easier for police to identify the legitimate waste kitchen grease transporters from the criminals. Companies failing to register as required by the law are subject to fines of up to $10,000 and up to one year in prison.
Waste kitchen grease transporters can complete the registration process and pay online with a credit card through the state's official website at http://www.maryland.gov or MDA's website http://www.mda.maryland.gov. Additionally, the registry is accessible for use by law enforcement officials and the general public through an online search tool. Other programs within MDA that require licensing and registering will also be moving toward providing more online services.