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Astoria businessman turns used veggie oil into profit

An Astoria business owner believes that consuming more vegetables is not only sage advice for borough residents, but also for their vehicles.

Thurston Cecil, who lives in Forest Hills and operates Astoria’s Mean Green Trucking, said his company gathers 100 gallons of vegetable oil per week from Japanese and Thai restaurants in western Queens and sells it to owners of diesel engine vehicles, which use it as fuel. Mean Green, at 47−11 25th St., not only converts vehicles to allow them to run on the oil, but also acts as an environmentally friendly moving company.

“We provide a free service to restaurants because they would normally have to pay to dispose of their oil,” he said. “We offer the unique ability to become the sole source provider of fuel to commercial entities that allow us to convert their vehicles.”

Mean Green originally began three years ago as a local chapter of a California−based green moving company of the same name. That company eventually dissolved, but Cecil’s Astoria site continued to operate as well as take on new ventures, including the conversion of diesel vehicles to allow them to run on vegetable oil and as a subcontractor for solar power companies.

Cecil said he believes the company is the only one of its kind in the five boroughs that actually converts vehicles to give them the option to run on vegetable oil. But the vehicles he works on are still able to run on diesel after they have been converted. Mean Green typically charges $2,500 to switch over a truck.

Cecil said using the oil to operate a vehicle is a cheaper alternative than running on diesel. He said the current national economic downturn might convince vehicle operators to getting a conversion. He also said it is very safe to use because it relies on compression as opposed to a spark for ignition.

“It’s incredibly safe,” he said. “Its flashpoint is 360 degrees, so you could drop a lighted match into. There are also no toxic residues. It’s 100 percent natural and has no petroleum−based product in it whatsoever.”

He said he sells the oil to his customers at $1.50 per gallon.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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