Think Before You Pour
Vegetable oil and animal fats known as FOGS (fats, oils and greases) used in cooking may be liquid after use, but they can harden inside pipes when poured down the sink. This causes blockages in pipes, leading on to problems in our households, wastewater systems and our marine environment. The ‘Think before You Pour’ campaign operated by An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme and supported by Irish Water is aiming to raise public awareness of this problem across Ireland. This campaign is simply asking you to ‘Think Before You Pour’ Fats, Oils and Greases down the sink.
WHAT TO DO
- Instead of pouring grease down the drain, wipe it off the pot or pan with a paper towel and throw it away.
- Pour cooled oil and fats into non-recyclable containers and then dispose with the trash.
- If you want to keep the oil for reuse, glass jars work well if you are pouring cooled oil into them as they have excellent resealable lids. On the plastic front, peanut butter jars are excellent oil containers.
- After you have put your cooking oil into a container, you can freeze it. Freezing it has two purposes–it’s easier to dispose of cooking oil after its solid, and you can reuse it after it has thawed.
What are FOGs?
FOGs stands for Fats, Oils and Grease. FOGs originate from food products such as butter, lard, vegetable oils, animal fats, meats, sauces and dairy products. FOGs are typically generated during the preparation of food containing these products and from associated cleaning/washing up processes.
Why are they important?
When fats, oils and grease are hot and are in liquid form, they pour easily down a drain or sink and appear harmless. However, when FOGs cools, it solidifies and builds up inside the pipes causing serious blockages. Blockages caused by FOGs can result in raw sewage overflowing from sewers into homes, business premises, public areas, streams or rivers causing an environmental and public health hazard. The removal of FOGs is a difficult and expensive process.
Facts on FOGS (Fats, Oils and Greases)
1. Even though soap breaks up grease, it loses its effectiveness downstream, allowing grease to solidify on the pipe walls.
2. Running hot tap water will NOT help grease float through the sewer pipe because the water will eventually cool as it flows through the pipe and the grease will become solid again.
3. One European project found that it was possible to collect 2.5 litres of FOG per household per month (recoilproject.eu).
4. It is estimated that 25% of municipal sewage treatment costs can be attributed to the FOG component (Curran, 2015).
5. Did you know that used oil from a single oil change can pollute up to one million gallons of freshwater
6. Through sewer flooding, FOG build-up is indirectly responsible for many cases of property damage and pollution incidents
7. “fatbergs” – a term that has been coined over the past decade or so to describe large conglomerations of fat, oil and grease (FOG)