As you prepare your holiday dinners this year, it is important not to pour fats, oils and grease, also known as FOG, down your drains as it can create buildup in wastewater pipes. It is also costly, with $1.6 million spent annually by Stafford County on preventive and removal efforts due to the improper disposal of FOG in the sanitary sewer system. When cooking by-products like fats, oils and grease are dumped down household drains, including dishwashers and garbage disposals, they cool, harden and then stick together. When other items travel down the pipes, they get trapped in the grease, causing clogged pipes and backups in the home, resulting in costly repairs for homeowners.
Household pipes are not the only thing that is affected by FOG materials. They also damage the larger water system and can cause “Fatbergs,” resulting from FOG by-products mixed with other things that should not be flushed down the drains. Stafford County’s Utility Department asks customers to remember three simple steps this holiday season to help alleviate this issue after cooking: can it, cool it and toss it. Sewer backups are not only costly to the County 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 compostable food waste. By canning 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 placing 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 dispose of the oil adequately. Fitted sink strainers can catch larger pieces of solid waste and then be 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.
By disposing of FOG in the trash and not down the drain, you can help save pipes and wastewater systems from expensive clogs and costly repairs. Remember, while cooking, clogs are a pain, so don’t pour grease down the drain!
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.