- Abstract Notwithstanding the food-for-fuel debate, turning waste cooking oil and fat (WCO) into a valuable product is a classic example of green chemistry. We demonstrate that sulfated zirconia and lanthanum-supported sulfated zirconia are good catalysts for the esterification of WCO free fatty acids (FFAs) with glycerol, giving high-value monoglycerides. Various catalysts were first screened using palmitic acid as a model FFA. Subsequently, six 10-kg batches of actual WCO were collected from commercial cookeries over a period of 28 weeks, pre-treated in a purpose-built decanter and esterified with industrial grade glycerol using heterogeneous catalysis. Good yield and turnovers were obtained. The pre-treatment stage and the catalytic esterification experiments are described and discussed.