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

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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 can clog pipes and treatment screens, causing backups, overflows and odour problems. FOG that makes it through to the ocean can deplete oxygen, damaging fish and other organisms that inhabit the environment. Not to mention that it takes additional energy for treatment plants to break down excess FOG entering the system.

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

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

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

3. Large amounts of liquid oil can be recycled at the Hartland Depot.

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

There are three main issues with fats, oils and grease entering the wastewater system:

  1. They clog the system by blocking pipes, binding screens and damaging pipes causing sewer backups, overflows & odour problems and upsets of the treatment plant.
  2. They can deplete oxygen in receiving waters, if they make it though treatment plants.
  3. Additional energy and treatment capacity is required to break down FOG entering the system increasing costs to operate the sewer system.

Why are oils that do not solidify a problem?

Oils entering the system cause problems in three ways:

  1. Many oils actually do solidify at lower temperatures and therefore clog the system. Even if they don’t solidify they often bind to other forms of fats and grease.
  2. Some oils move through the system so quickly that they cannot be fully broken down in the treatment process.
  3. Oil droplets can concentrate other contaminants, leading to food chain problems.

How much fat is currently going into the wastewater system?

The CRD estimates that almost 1,000,000 kg of fats, oils and grease from residential sources enter the CRD wastewater system annually. This represents 60% of all FOG entering the system.

How should I dispose of fats, oils and grease?

Small quantities of fats, oils and grease should be left to cool and then stored in a sealable container in the refrigerator or freezer. Once the container is full it can be discarded in your household garbage or kitchen scraps bin. Smaller amounts of cooled grease, salad dressings and sauces can be absorbed with a paper towel and tossed into the garbage or kitchen scraps bin.

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

One of the goals of residential source control is to reduce waste at its source in the most effective and convenient way. Use a container that is readily available, heat resistant and sturdy. Used paper coffee cups can be a good option as they can be composted in your kitchen scraps. Experiment to find the best solution for you. The key is to wait until the container is full before disposing.

If your municipality operates a kitchen scraps program, consider using a compostable container to store FOG.  Both the container and content can be placed in your kitchen scraps bin.

Isn’t grease also bad for the landfill?

Over time, fats, oils and grease are very effectively broken down under landfill conditions. Very low levels appear in landfill leachate. Fats, oils and grease cause greater environmental problems when they enter the wastewater system.

What should I do with large quantities of cooking oil?

Large quantities, up to 10 litres, of uncontaminated residential liquid cooking oil, such as used deep fryer oil, can be taken to Hartland Landfill for recycling. Cooking oil is accepted at recycling drop off area for no charge.

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

Since 1994 the CRD has worked with the restaurant industry through education, regulation and regular monitoring and inspection. Since 2003 properly sized grease traps have been mandatory in all commercial kitchens in the CRD. Non-compliant food service businesses are fined.