Wedegaertner explained that cottonseed oil is a healthy alternative to soy oil and other oils frequently used in fryers. It is low in saturated fat, contains no cholesterol or trans fats, and is a viable alternative for many people with allergies to other types of oil.

After exhausting the oil’s usefulness in the fryers, Sodexo sends it to Leyendecker, where a biodiesel processor donated by Cotton Incorporated can convert 50 gallons of used cooking oil into 50 gallons of biodiesel in 24 hours.

The biodiesel goes into the fuel tanks of a catering vehicle used by Sodexo as a delivery vehicle for campus catering orders and a multipurpose farm vehicle at Leyendecker – both of which were also donated by Cotton Incorporated.

“This all fits in nicely with our 14 commitments for a sustainable campus environment that are part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow Plan,” Miner said.

According to Carrillo, some of the biodiesel will also be used to run pumps that irrigate the cotton fields.

NMSU’s manager of environmental policy and sustainability is joni newcomer. She is particularly enthusiastic about the initiative’s waste-reduction aspects.

“This cottonseed oil-to-fuel process is a full circle, or ‘cradle-to-cradle,’ technique which keeps waste – in this case used food oils and their non-recyclable containers – out of landfills,” she said. “We hope that this project will draw the attention of other NMSU units and that they will move to try similar approaches to enhance sustainability at the university.”