EUGENE — The oil that cooked game day french fries at Autzen Stadium Saturday afternoon will be shipped to Salem, mingled with oil that cooked Kettle Chips and converted into biodiesel, which fans with diesel-burning cars could burn on the way to the Tennessee game in two weeks.
The loop from food to fuel will be completed because the University of Oregon athletic department has made a deal to hand over its cooking oil to Salem-based SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel after each of this season's seven home football games.
And here's another loop: SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel was launched by three UO students in the incubator on campus.
Their venture just announced production of its 20 millionth gallon of biodiesel fuel — a blend of vegetable and petroleum oils — which produces 78 percent less carbon dioxide and hazardous pollutants than pure petroleum-based diesel.
The company expects to make more than 6 million gallons in 2013, UO graduate and SeQuential General Manager Tyson Keever said. It employs 100 in Oregon and Washington.
"This is very meaningful for us to have the business come back and provide full service to the university," Keever said. "It does have a very special place in our heart(s)."
UO athletics is a bit late to the biofuels party. SeQuential has serviced Oregon State University's Reser Stadium in Corvallis for a year and Washington's Husky Stadium in Seattle longer than that, Keever said.
The company collects cooking oil from the Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field and the Seattle Seahawks' CenturyLink Field, the Portland Timbers' Jeld-Wen Field and from the concession stands at Hillsboro Ballpark, where the minor league Hillsboro Hops play baseball.
Game days yield 200 gallons to 600 gallons of french fry oil per stadium. The athletic department doesn't have a written contract with SeQuential, said Eric Roedl, executive senior associate athletic director for finance and administration.
"We've got some containers from them that we fill up with cooking oil that — when we're ready to dispose of — they pick it up. We don't pay them."
The UO main campus leaped onto the biofuels bandwagon long before the athletic department hopped on. The Erb Memorial Union signed up with SeQuential in 2011; the University Housing and Dining Services stepped aboard in 2012.
So far in 2013, SeQuential has collected 1,500 gallons of spent cooking oil from the main campus, SeQuential spokeswoman Rachel Shaver said.
University Housing is "super committed to sustainability in a lot of different ways," spokeswoman Lauren Miller said.
The dining halls pioneered the use of eggs from cage-free chickens, buying the "cleanest" brands possible, and using low-carbon deliveries from Hummingbird Wholesale.
"We get our rice biked to us every day," Miller said.
The athletic department was a tougher customer, Keever at SeQuential said.
"We have been talking with them for quite some time," he said. "We'd gradually been working our way in the door more there and getting traction."
The concessions manager made the decision to bring in SeQuential.
Both the main campus and the Autzen concessions previously gave their oils to Baker Commodities Inc., a California-based firm with a dozen plants in the United States.
Baker Commodities specializes in animal rendering and grease removal. Its products go into candles, cosmetics, paints, plastics, organic detergents, livestock feed, pet food and biodiesel, according to the company website.
"Most cooking oil that's recycled in the region — that doesn't come to (SeQuential) — goes into animal feed and is exported overseas," Keever said. "We're the only commercial production facility that's vertically integrated into cooking oil recycling to biodiesel."
The athletic department seems pleased with the switch.
"Oregon Athletics is committed to playing a leadership role in the university's greening efforts," according to a statement by Craig Pintens, senior associate athletic director for marketing and public relations.
"From individual offices to our complex of athletic venues, our staff, student-athletes, and supporters are making a difference for the environment," Pintens said.