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Century-Old Firm Branches Into Biodiesel

Family-owned American By-Products Recycling began its green practices almost 100 years ago—and recently diversified into biodiesel fuel.

At American By-Products Recyclers, the business is being green.

The company, located at 301 Roycefield Road, has been in the business of collecting and recycling waste cooking oil from restaurants throughout New York City and New Jersey since 1914, according to current owner Todd Magee.

“We’ve always recycled it,” Magee said. “Our tagline is ‘Green since 1914.’”

That was when Magee’s great-grandfather founded the company, which would convert the recycled waste oil into tallow soap and candles. This would last until approximately the 1950s, when cheaper substances to make soap and candles were discovered. That didn’t stop American By-Products from shifting its focus, though.

“Animal feed became the new location for the waste cooking oil,” Magee said. “They would put it on chicken farms, almost like gravy on the food for the chickens and pigs to gobble it up because it tastes so good.”

Recently, the company has joined the biodiesel fuel movement. Biodiesel is an alternative fuel source for diesel engines that can be made with the oil itself or by combining the waste oil with petroleum-based fuels. The fuel has become prominent on the west coast, particularly in California, over the past decade and has now begun to reach the eastern portion of the United States.

Although the company still designates some of its recovered oil for animal feed, American By-Products is getting in on the action of the biodiesel movement. The company has been in its Hillsborough location with its “Planet Earth Biodiesel” factory since 2009.

“The bulk of what we pick up now goes to biodiesel. We pick it up on the operational side (American By-Products Recyclers) and then we bring it back to the factory (Planet Earth Biodiesel), which is the vertically-integrated factory side,” Magee said.

The company now uses state-of-the-art pump trucks to collect oil from various locations throughout the tri-state area. The new trucks are a far cry—and a far more convenient one—from the barrel trucks that American By-Products had used to pick up oil shipments for generations.

“We used to pick it up in barrel trucks,” Magee said. “The pump came in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Before that, we used to always roll them up.”

American By-Products also makes sure to contribute to the surrounding community. Magee told Patch that his company uses local resources whenever possible, ranging from company lunches from to contracts with companies such as Allied Fuel for the operations of the company’s trucks and machinery.

“The biggest initial piece (of how American By-Products helps Hillsborough) is the sheer economics of it,” Magee said. “Not only (does it help) the employment here, but in addition to that, the spinoff effect of anything that we need, the first thing we do is search locally to find a vendor that’s nearby to give us great service. We’ve found that to be true with whatever we need around here.”

For this reason, American By-Products tries to lend support to its fellow local businesses whenever possible, and the company takes a great deal of pride in its adopted community.

“We’re really excited about being in Hillsborough. We’ve been here a good bit of time, and we use all the local companies for everything,” Magee said. “We’re trying to use all local guys and keep the resources local. We believe strongly in that.”

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