graphic of a blob of grease with the words "stop the grease blog" on it

Pouring cooking oil or grease down the drain sticks to the insides of the wastewater pipes, and creates a gooey-gross Grease Blob. The more you feed him the bigger he gets until he causes a monster of a clog. Help stop the Grease Blob from causing expensive repairs, foul odors and sanitary sewer overflows!

 

Sources of Fats, Oils, & Grease (FOG)

FOG can come from a variety of animal fats and/or vegetable oils that are used to prepare food or are found in food.  Examples include:

  • Meat Fats (Bacon, Sausage, etc.)
  • Sauces & Gravy
  • Cooking oils (Canola, Corn etc.)
  • Yogurt
  • Butter/Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Nut Butters
  • Salad Dressing 

Many oils solidify at lower temperatures and, even those that don't, often bind to other forms of fats and grease. 

Proper FOG Disposal to Help Stop the Grease Blob
  • Use a paper towel to wipe grease from pots, pans, plates, and utensils prior to washing.
  • Scrape food scraps into the trash, not the sink or garbage disposal (unfortunately, very greasy and oily food cannot be composted).
  • Use a sink strainer to catch food particles.
  • Collect small quantities of cooking oil or grease in a coffee can, empty milk carton, or similar container (preferably with a lid so it doesn't pour out).
  • Alternatively, the FOG can be mixed with kitty litter, and double bagged.
  • Chill FOG in the fridge if you need to get it to harden up.
  • Toss the container of collected FOG in your trash bin, or even better, recycle it at Austin's Resource Recovery's Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center.
  • For restaurants, or large quantities of FOG, learn about Austin Water's Grease Trap Program.
image of someone pouring grease down a sink drain image of someone wiping a greasy pan with a paper towel
What Can Happen When FOG Goes Down the Drain? 

image of Grease blocking a sewer pipeFOG poured down the drain (including food scraps sent through the garbage disposal) sticks to the insides of the wastewater pipes, and can cause:

  • Sewage back-ups & overflows
  • Very costly repairs for both homeowners and the City
  • Threats to public health and the environment

The City of Austin is under an Administrative Order from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address persistent problems with sanitary sewer overflows.

Grease can completely block a sewer pipe, as pictured above.

Common FOG Disposal Myths

 

  • Myth #1: It is okay to put sources of Fats, Oils, and Grease down the drain if using the garbage disposal.
    Truth: Garbage disposals only grind up the greasy, fatty foods into smaller particles, which can make it even easier for it to cling to pipes.
    Resolution: Always scrape food scraps from dirty dishes, pots, and pans into the trash or compost.
     
  • Myth #2: Using hot water and soap to rinse dishes and remove the grease residue left on plates is sufficient to prevent a clog in the pipes.
    Truth: Hot water and soap may serve only to push the potential clog further down the pipe, often meaning that the eventual blockage may be even more costly to repair.
    Resolution: Wipe dirty dishes with a paper towel before rinsing and use as little chemicals and soap as possible to maintain a sanitary kitchen.
     

  • Myth #3: It is okay to flush wipes down the toilet if they are labeled “Flushable”.
    Truth: Just because something says “Flushable” doesn’t mean it should be flushed. Flushable wipes have been retrieved fully intact after at least 30 minutes of travel time through the sewer system.  And any FOG poured down the drain can cling to the wipes in the pipes, which can lead to a “Fatberg”.
    Resolution: Wipes should be properly disposed of in the trash, not the toilet. For more information, visit the Only Flush Toilet Paper webpage.

Holiday FOG Tips

FOG should not be poured down the drain any time of the year, but it is especially important to remember during theimage of a turkey frying in a pot busy holiday season. The good news is proper disposal of holiday-meal related FOG is easy and benefits the entire City of Austin!

Large Amounts of Cooking Oil (ex. from a Deep-Fried Turkey):

If you have gallons of oils to dispose of, place the grease in a sealed, labeled container. You can drop off up to 5-gallons of cooking oil at Austin’s Resource Recovery’s Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center (2514 Business Center Drive, Austin, TX 78744). Drop-off is currently by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, visit http://www.austintexas.gov/dropoff

Once collected at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center, the oil is poured into a 100-gallon tank. A vendor then picks up the tank and processes the used cooking oil into biodiesel, which is a more safe, biodegradable and clean burning transportation fuel than petroleum-based diesel.

Small Amounts of Cooking Oil & Grease:

For small amounts of FOG, proper disposal is as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Let the FOG cool.
  2. Place it in a sealed container (such as an empty coffee can or pasta sauce jar).
  3. Toss the sealed container into the trash.

Please also use a paper towel to wipe grease from pots, pans, plates and utensils prior to washing. And remember to dispose of the paper towels in the trash, never flush them down the drain.

Grease Blob Frequently Asked Questions

Why are cooking oils and grease a problem for wastewater pipes?
Fat, cooking oil and grease (FOG) are only partially soluble in water and are not compatible with wastewater piping. If poured down the drain, these substances thicken, coagulate, and stick to the drainage piping, forming gooey-gross deposits that grow each time additional greasy waste enters the pipes.

Whether these deposits form in the homeowner's wastewater pipes or the city sanitary sewer lines, the result is a clogged pipe and costly repairs. These blockages may also be accompanied by foul odors, significant property damage, and even environmental harm.

What is the difference between oil and grease?
The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are very different substances. Oil, such as vegetable or olive oil, is liquid and never turns into a solid. Grease is the solid residue leftover in the cooled pan after frying meat, such as bacon.

Why are oils that do not solidify a problem?
Many oils do solidify at lower temperatures and therefore clog the drainage system. Even if oils don't solidify, they often bind to other forms of fats and grease.

What are the common mistakes people make when disposing of cooking oils and grease?
When many people are finished cooking, they tend to dump leftover cooking oil, grease, and/or food scraps down the sink and turn on the garbage disposal. The truth is that garbage disposals only grind up the greasy, fatty foods into smaller particles, which can make it even easier for it to cling to pipes.

Another common mistake is rinsing dishes in the sink with hot water and soap to remove the grease residue left on plates. Hot water and soap may serve only to push the potential clog further down the pipe, often meaning that the eventual blockage may be even more costly to repair.  It is best to use as little chemicals and soap as possible to maintain a sanitary kitchen.

Does it really make a difference if I pour just a little grease down the drain?
Yes, based on an estimated population of 978,908 (U.S. Census, 7/1/2019)if every person in Austin poured just one teaspoon of FOG down the drain, it would be the equivalent of dumping nearly 1,275 gallons of FOG into the sewer.

Where is the Austin’s Resource Recovery’s Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center located if I want to drop off a container of FOG to be recycled?  And, is there a cost to do so?
Austin’s Resource Recovery’s Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center is located at 2514 Business Center Drive, Austin, TX 78744.  Drop off of your household hazardous waste for safe disposal or reuse is free for Austin and Travis County residents (fees apply if you do not live in Austin or Travis County).  Appointments to drop off can be made online.

What about restaurants or large quantities of cooking oil and grease?
For restaurants, or large quantities of grease, learn about Austin Water’s Grease Trap Program.

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