Sewer ‘Fatbergs’

City officials in Vancouver are asking residents to stop pouring cooking oil or grease down the drain because its clogging up sewer pipes and leading to the growth of ‘fatbergs’.

Metro Vancouver says it spends $2 million every year to unblock sewer pipes and repair the damage caused by household grease.

While pouring a little grease down the drain after frying may seem harmless, but the grease mixes with hair and other debris to form ‘fatbergs’: congealed masses of fat that can become as hard as concrete.

All kinds of grease can lead to problems, including meat drippings, butter, cooking oil and more.

Metro Vancouver has launched a new public awareness campaign called ‘Wipe it, Green Bin it”. The campaign is aimed at getting people to scrape or wipe out their cooking pans and butter dishes then composting the grease, instead of washing it down the drain.

This simple awareness campaign has proved a marked improvement and difference. The pipes were kept a lot cleaner and it was a lot less money to clean the drains.

What can’t go down the drain?

  • Fats- dairy products, salad dressing, margarine, shortening etc.
  • Oils- cooking oils (olive, coconut, canola, vegetable, peanut etc.) sauces, etc.
  • Grease- pan drippings from meat, lard etc.

How to dispose of kitchen grease:

  • For small amount of grease, wipe or scrape out the pot or pan and put the grease into your green bin.
  • Larger amounts of grease, like deep fryer oil, can be dropped off at an approved recycling depot.

When cooking oils, liquid fats and grease are poured down pipes, they harden as they cool, overtime, the oily substances build and layer, gradually closing off pipes and placing a lot of weight and pressure from the inside. Add to the picture other non-flushable washing down clogs can form and pipes can eventually burst, causing raw sewage to back up into basements, or discharge directly into creeks, rivers and lakes.

To help tackle the fatberg problem here in Ontario, the City of London started the “Your Turn Program”. Community members can collect their used fats, oils, and grease in a biodegradable PLA plastic cup. When the cup is full, the person can either choose to put it in waste bin, or take the full cups to an enviro depot. The City of London even set up depots where people can drop off their filled cups.

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