We've put our sink on a fat-free diet


Each year almost one million kilograms of fats, oils and grease (FOG) flow down the drains of homes throughout the capital region. Well, it doesn't always flow. FOG that makes it down the sink from food preparation and cooking, clogs pipes and treatment screens, causing sewage backups, overflows and odour problems. Even with advanced wastewater treatment, what you put down the drain matters! FOG that makes it through to the ocean can deplete oxygen, damaging fish and other organisms that inhabit the environment. Not to mention it takes additional energy for treatment plants to break down fats, oils and grease in the system which contributes to climate emissions.

Find the FOG contest

From December 5-10, answer our "Find the FOG" question on Facebook or Instagram for a chance to win a gift card to the Red Barn Market! Read the full contest rules (PDF).

A few simple steps will prevent fats, oils and grease from causing clogs and blockages: 

1. Wipe small amounts of grease with a used paper towel or napkin and place in kitchen scraps.

2. Cool larger amounts of grease in a container until solid and empty into your kitchen scraps or garbage.

3. Liquid cooking oil (up to 10 litres) can be taken to a depot for recycling.

Why are fats, oils and grease (FOG) a problem?

FOG causes blockages in our wastewater conveyance system, and can cause sewage back-ups into homes and businesses, as well as contribute to overflows into the environment.  There are several issues with fats, oils and grease in our infrastructure.  FOG causes:

  • clogged pipes, screens and pumps
  • reduced efficiency and increased energy use by treatment plants
  • increased maintenance 
  • increased cost to operate the sewer system

How much fat is currently going into the wastewater system?

The CRD estimates that almost one million kilograms of fats, oils and grease from residential sources enter its wastewater system annually. This represents 60% of all FOG entering the system.

Why are oils that do not solidify a problem?

Many oils (such as coconut oil) will solidify when they come into contact with lower temperature water in the wastewater conveyance system, therefore creating clogs. If the oils do not solidify, they may still create clogs as they often bind to other forms of fats and grease and solid material such as hair, dental floss and non-flushable wipes.

Oils that move through the system rapidly reduce treatment plant efficiency and require more time and energy to break down. Oil droplets will also absorb and concentrate other chemicals leading to wastewater quality problems. 

What foods can clog pipes?

Sources of fats, oil, and grease can be tricky and include:

  • Oil and grease from cooking meat such as bacon
  • Cooking juices (such as in roasting pans) have floating fats
  • Cooking oil, butter, shortening, lard, and margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressing
  • Gravy and oil-based sauces
  • All dairy products, including milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, and cream cheese

How should I dispose of fats, oils and grease?

  • Wipe small amounts of grease with a used napkin or paper towel and dispose of it in your kitchen scraps bin

    (Tip: even an orange peel can be used to scrape plates!)

  • Cool larger amounts of grease in a container until solid and then empty this into your kitchen scraps bin

    (Tip:  line a container with newspaper for easy disposal!)

  • Liquid oil (up to 10 litres) can be recycled at the Hartland Depot

What should I use to store FOG before disposing of it?

Use a container that is readily available, heat resistant and sturdy. Once solidified, the FOG can be scraped into the green bin and the container can be used again. Experiment to find the best solution for you. Line your container with newspaper for easier transfer to your green bin.

Can I use a garburator?

Foods ground up by garburators need to be screened out of the wastewater later, which contributes to increased costs for wastewater treatment. Meats and other items also contribute to the FOG problem. Put all food waste in your green bin to be composted and used as a resource!  

Will hot water and soap dissolve fats, oils and grease?

Fats, oils and grease (FOG) will still congeal and clog pipes due to the lower temperature of wastewater in the conveyance system; even boiling hot, soapy water would not be able to keep FOG liquid long enough to avoid greasy residue coating the inside of pipes and trapping food particles.

Can I rinse small amounts of fats, oils and grease down the drain?

No. In a growing region, small amounts add up quickly. Over time, those small amounts can turn into a bigger problem!

How should I dispose of dairy products?

Dairy products contain fat and should not be poured or rinsed down the drain. Follow these tips:

  • Only buy what you need
  • Take note of expiry dates when bringing dairy into your home
  • Use products up before their date or freeze them to use later
  • Dairy products are accepted at Hartland Landfill kitchen scraps drop off

Isn’t grease also bad for the landfill?

Fats, oils and grease are effectively broken down over time under landfill conditions. Very low levels appear in landfill leachate. Fats, oils and grease cause greater environmental problems when they enter the wastewater system. The best place for them is in the kitchen scraps bin where they will be composted into a resource. 

What should I do with deep fryer oil?

You can take up to 10 litres of household cooking oil, such as used deep fryer oil, to Hartland Landfill for recycling. Liquid oil is accepted at the recycling drop off area at no charge.

What about restaurants and the large amounts of fat and oil they use?

The CRD has worked with the restaurant industry through education, regulation and regular monitoring and inspection since 1994. Properly sized grease traps have been mandatory in all commercial kitchens in the region since 2003.