Fats, oils and grease (FOG) can cause big problems. In fact, the improper disposal of fats, oil and grease in Stafford’s sanitary sewer system is costing Stafford’s utility system more than $1.6 million a year in preventive and removal efforts. When cooking by-products like fats, oils and grease (FOG) are dumped down household drains, they cool and stick together in one large grease ball that clogs pipes and creates backups in the home, creating costly repairs for homeowners. Furthermore, these materials damage the larger water system and can cause “Fatbergs,” FOG by-products mixed with other things flushed down drains. Stafford is asking customers to remember three simple steps to help alleviate this issue after cooking: can it, cool it and toss it.
Some people may assume that putting a small amount of grease down the drain after cooking is okay, especially if you are careful to run the hot water, but this is not the case. Any fat, oil or grease poured down the drain, including dishwasher drains and garbage disposals, travels through pipes, cools, hardens and then sticks to the sides of the pipes. When other items travel down the pipes, they get trapped in the grease clog, creating an even more significant clog. Sewer backups are not only costly to repair, but sewage is full of bacteria and contaminants that pose a threat to people and their pets.
FOG is found in meats, sauces, gravies, cooking oils, mayonnaise, cheese, ice cream, butter, salad dressing, milk and all compostable food waste. By canning the grease and cooling it before throwing it away, you can prevent overflows, flooding and property damage caused by FOG. Additionally, the steps below can help ensure that no fats, oils or grease enter the sanitary sewer.
- Collect and properly dispose of cooking oils and grease by pouring it into a heat-proof container like an aluminum can and place it in the trash.
- Collect FOG in a heat-proof container and take it to the Regional Landfill, 489 Eskimo Hill Road, Stafford, VA 22554, or the Belman Road Recycling Center, 1200 Belman Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22401. You can leave the containers there, and staff will adequately dispose of the oil. Fitted sink strainers can be used to catch larger pieces of solid waste and then thrown in a trash can.
- Wipe plates and pans with a paper towel to remove any leftover food and grease before washing or placing it in a dishwasher. Don’t use a towel or a rag to wipe plates or clean grease. When you wash them, the grease ends up in the sewer.
Proper disposal of FOG in the trash and not down the drains saves pipes and wastewater systems from expensive clogs and costly repairs.
If you have any additional questions about sewer blockages and what can safely be put into the wastewater system, please visit www.staffordcountyva.gov/FOG .