Putting fats, oils and grease down the sink can cause a real pain in the drain. As they travel through pipes and sewers, these items harden and pick up other materials along the way. The result: clogged pipes in your home and blocked sewers that can oveflow into homes, businesses and the environment.
Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities spend $2.7 million every year to repair damage caused by fats, oils and grease in the sewer system. And that's not counting the costs to individual homeowners to fix clogged pipes. Save your pipes (and your sewers): put grease in your green bin, not down the drain.
What can't go down the drain
Most of us know bacon grease doesn’t go down the drain, but did you know that there are lots of other foods that can clog pipes?
FATS – dairy products, margarine, shortening, gravy
OILS – cooking oils (olive, coconut, canola, vegetable, peanut, etc.), salad dressing, mayonnaise
GREASE – animal fats left over from cooking meats (bacon grease, pan drippings, etc.).
How to dispose of fats, oils and grease
Need to dispose of a lot of used cooking oil and can’t get to a depot? Try putting small amounts in your green bin every day until you have disposed of the entire amount. Only put in what can be absorbed by the contents of your green bin (fuller green bins can absorb more liquids than emptier ones). Excess liquids in the green bin can cause problems further down the line, as the trucks that collect green bins are not designed to handle liquids.
Fact checker: common grease myths
Find out if these common myths about fats, oils and grease are fact or fiction.
You can avoid problems by running hot water with soap.
Nope. Fats, oils and grease don’t only harden harden in sewers because of cold temperatures, but because of a chemical reaction that turns them into a concrete-like material. Over time this material builds and builds, eventually clogging pipes. Greasy foods mixed with soap still become part of that chemical reaction.
It’s OK if you put everything through an in-sink food grinder first
Food grinders may break grease up into small pieces, but that doesn’t make it go away. It still goes into the sewer, where it can build up and create clogs.
Small amounts down the drain are okay
With 2.5 million people in our region, those small amounts add up and can really slow down our pipes. Over time, small amounts of fats, oils and grease can turn into big clogs.
I only really need to worry about keeping bacon grease out of the drain
Bacon grease may be the most obvious clogger, but it’s far from the only one. Fats, oils and grease should all go in your green bin.
How fats, oils and grease affect the sewer system
Check out these videos to see firsthand what happens when fats, oils and grease get into the region’s sewer system.
Grease in sewers: how maintenance crews remove grease buildup to keep the wastewater system running.
How fats, oils and grease affect our sewer system (and your household plumbing).