The “Turn Grease into Fuel” recycling program started by 14-year-old Cassandra Lin (林心瑜), a US citizen of Taiwanese descent, has been chosen by CNN as one of the young wonders in its Top 10 CNN heroes of the year.
The annual show, hosted by Anderson Cooper, began in 2007 and honors individuals who have contributed to humanitarian projects. Each episode has 10 individuals, as well as three Young Wonders honorees featuring young men or women who have helped out in humanitarian efforts.
Lin and seven friends started the community project four years ago, in concert with local restaurants and Newport Biodiesel, a company that processes used oil, helping restaurants turn used grease into fuel.
Lin said Guardian Fuel & Energy Co in Westerly, Rhode Island, distributes all the fuel produced by the project to needy families.
“It is our sincere hope to help both the environment and the community at one go,” she said.
A total of 118 restaurants and 10 public storage places participate in the recycling program, and residents in the area are encouraged to donate household grease to the public storage places.
“We haven’t accomplished much yet, and we hope to be able to provide 21,000 gallons [79,493 liters] of fuel to be used by 210 families, the equivalent of US$81,000 worth of biofuel,” Lin said, adding that they were also hoping to expand the program and offer fuel throughout New England in the next five years.
The New England region includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Newly enrolled at the Williams School in New London, Connecticut, Lin and her Westerly Innovations Network team appeared on CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute, on Sunday night.
Lin said that being recognized by CNN was an honor, and it was heady to be on the same stage with all the other CNN Heroes.