By Abraham Aboraya
SEMINOLE COUNTY – When Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order in July to make the state government a more environmentally friendly employer, part of the provision was that agencies should use “green lodging” for conferences when it’s available.
Tom Rovison, the owner of franchise company Filtafry, hopes his company’s business of reducing waste in restaurants will get a boost from the order as the New Year comes around and the bulk of the order comes into effect.
“A lot of these companies are in a rush right now to get involved with the Florida Restaurant [and Lodging] Association and the green theme lodging so they’re still allowed to host these functions,” Rovison said. “What happens at that point is people have to follow certain waste guidelines – reduction to a certain level – a
nd we help them get to that level and it’s a cost effective way of doing it.”
Rovison’s company uses a vacuum and pressurized filter system, an imported system from Europe, to clean the frying oil and double the life of the oil. Rovison said that one of his goals for 2008 is to expand his business in Seminole County.
“No one likes to clean the fryers, but we’ve got it down to a science,” Rovison said. “We’ve got all the tools that are needed to do it fast, safely and cost effectively.”
Filtafry has a sister company that works with restaurants and cafeterias to secure the used oil and convert it to bio-diesel fuel. ABC Research Corporation in Gainesville, a company that does lab work for Burger King, said the recycled oil may be lower in coal tar and even trans fat, the Orlando Business Journal reported.
The company is also expanding and offering a filter service for freezers, which Rovison said can both lower the temperature of the freezer and equalize the humidity, which means less time with the compressor running.
“You save on electricity which means less fossil fuels which means more environmentally friendly,” Rovison said.
Rovison services a variety of clients, from the cafeteria at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford to all three Papa Joe’s in Seminole County. For many of his clients, Rovison said, it’s not the environmental and health benefits that lure clients to his business as much as it is the release of liability.
According to a 1999 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, there was an estimated 44,800 injuries suffered by restaurant workers – and nearly half of those injuries were from burns. Numbers for burns in Seminole County aren’t kept by state’s worker’s compensation department, the state Department of Health or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Florida office.
When Danna McGowen arrives at a business in the bright yellow Fitafry van, he’s wearing what look like welding gloves – thick gloves that go to the elbow made from bulletproof kevlar – and he’s armed with four years of experience changing out the 360-degree oil.
Both McGowen and Rovison said people often show them the scars they’ve gotten changing or cleaning the oil.
“They’ll roll their arms up and show you the scars,” Rovison said. “We take that liability away from them and give them a better product.”
“We can handle pretty much anything coming our way,” Rovison said. Currently, he estimates that he filters about 10,000 pounds of oil in a week. “The more (clients) the merrier.”