It’s so easy to dispose of oils, fats and grease down the drain after a big fry-up. But don’t be tempted. Fats, oils and grease do not go down the drain – nor should they be flushed down the toilet. Once they cool in the sewer they quickly solidify, sticking to the walls of pipes and clogging them up. If they mix with other items, such as wet wipes then blockages can occur even faster.
The pipes that run from your home to the main sewer can become blocked easily and if this occurs on the house-side of the water meter, then you will need to pay for a plumber to get them unblocked. In addition to this, human waste can quickly back up into your street, garden or even your home, causing a disgusting and costly mess – which is completely avoidable.
Instead, you should:
- Recycle used cooking oil or properly dispose of it by pouring it into a sealable container and placing the sealed container in the rubbish bin.
- Put food scraps into the rubbish bin, not the sink. In an effort to help kerb food disposal down drains and toilets, the Tauranga City Council have included food scrap bins in their new kerbside collections to commence in July 2021.
- Wipe pots, pans and dishes with a dry paper towel before you wash them. Then throw away the paper towels in the bin.
- Place a catch basket or screen over the drain when rinsing dishes, or when peeling or cutting food, then throw the leftover scraps in the trash (or into your food scrap bin from July 2021).
Fact vs Fiction
Water For Life has identified the following myths when it comes to disposing of cooking oil, fats and grease:
“If you use dishwashing liquid while pouring the fat, oil and grease down the sink it will break it up and pass through the pipes.”
FICTION. Using dishwashing liquid to break up the fats and oils left in your pan is only a temporary solution. As grease moves further down the wastewater network, these oils and fats congeal and cause blockages.
“It’s OK to pour grease down the drain if you run hot water with it.”
FICTION. Hot water merely transports the grease further down the sewer line. Eventually, the liquid grease will cool and solidify, coating the pipes and forming a blockage.
“It’s OK to put fat, oil and grease down the waste disposal.”
FICTION. Using a waste disposal only grinds particles down before passing them into the wastewater system. Oil poured down a waste disposal will solidify further down the network and cause build-ups.
So how do you dispose of oil, grease and fat?
- Wait for the cooking oil to cool down completely before disposing of it. Leave it for a few hours to cool down. Hot cooking grease in your rubbish poses a fire risk.
- Pour the cooled oil into a non-breakable container with a resealable lid. Commonly used containers are old jars.
- Place the container in a rubbish bin. Ensure the container is sealed properly.
- Reuse cooking oil. If you do a lot of cooking, consider reusing your cooking oil. It’s a great way to sav on grocery bills and reduce food waste.
How to reuse cooking oil?
Use a high-quality cooking oil with a high smoking point. The smoking point is the temperature at which oil starts to break down. Do not use olive oil for reuse, as it has a low smoking point. Instead, opt for canola, vegetable or peanut oils.
Leave used cooking oil to cool down before you pour your used oil into a container. Let your oil sit away from a heat source for several hours – at least.
Select a sealable container to avoid your oil becoming compromised. We recommend using a glass jar and storing your oil in the refrigerator. This will extend its shelf life and prevent bacteria growth. Never store used cooking oil in a warm environment as it will cause the oil to break down.
Remove the undesirable extras like crumbs, batter and other food particles by filtering your oil through a coffee filter or fine sieve. If you’ve filtered the oil and stored it properly, you can reuse it up to two more times. It’s important to check the oil before you use it and dispose of any oil that’s cloudy or smells bad in the rubbish bin.
Food Scrap Bins
As part of the Tauranga Council’s new kerbside collection service, Tauranga households will be provided with new bins for food scraps.
You can place the following in your food scraps bin:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Bread and dairy
- Cooked food and leftovers
- Egg and seafood shells
- Coffee grounds (NO TEABAGS!)
- Paper towels (from food prep)
- Indoor cut flowers
- Meat, fish and bones.
Do you have a blocked drain?