Protect your Pipes this Thanksgiving

By: L. Scott

Turkey season is nearing and it is time for families to consider not only the best way to cook a turkey, but how to get rid of the turkey grease. The latest trend of frying a whole turkey in an outdoor fryer can result in about 20 gallons of used cooking oil.

There are a few rules about grease that comes from the holiday ritual. Some people make the mistake of pouring cooking oils and grease down the kitchen sink or flushing it down the toilet. This is especially true during the holiday season.

Fat, oil and grease or (FOG) can be found in cooking oils, salad dressings, lards, butter, dairy products, meat, food scraps and shortening. When cooking grease is poured down the drain, it clings to the insides of wastewater pipes. Over time, the oil and grease accumulate and restrict wastewater flow. When this happens in your home, FOG can lead to slow running drains, odor issues and cause residential sewer main clogs. In the city’s sanitary sewer lines, FOG can cause significant clogs that lead to sanitary sewer overflows into streams and roads. FOG can also clog the sewer pipes under the streets making it difficult for wastewater to flow to the wastewater treatment plant. If this occurs, the wastewater can come to the surface and pollute the environment.

Thanksgiving is usually the busiest day of the year for plumbers. Many municipalities now require businesses and individuals to pay for the cost of clearing FOG blockage and direct cleanup. Used cooking oil kept out of the sewers and landfills will reduce public works costs.


Prevention

Food scraps should be scraped from pots, pans, dishes, and cooking utensils, and put into the trash or compost before washing or rinsing dishes. If you have even a small amount of grease in your pipes, putting food scraps down the drain can clog your pipes faster. The garbage disposal does not destroy grease, it only makes it smaller.

A common myth about FOG is that you can wash the grease from pans with dish soap. Although soap breaks up the grease into smaller parts, it loses its effectiveness downstream, allowing grease to rejoin and solidify in the pipe walls. Another myth is running hot tap water will help break up the grease and make it float in the sewer pipe. Running hot tap water will not work because the water will eventually cool as it flows through the pipe and the grease will become solid again.

"Fulton County, Georgia recommends residents who are unable to drop off their used grease and do not have a pick-up service to solidify the liquid oil with kitty litter before putting it into the trash. The most important thing is to never pour it down the drain," says Sharon Smith, Environmental Education Coordinator of Fulton County Water Resources. Kitty litter or coffee grounds effectively absorb fats and oils prior to disposal in the trash. Always allow the grease to cool and then slowly mix the cooled oil with kitty litter until all the oil is absorbed.

Are you looking for an environmentally safe way to dispose of the used grease? Green Grease Recycling will be collecting grease left over from the holidays. This grease will then be converted into biodiesel fuel for powering vehicles. Residents may call and schedule a free at-home grease pick-up. “By setting up this collection, we will not only ease the hassle of proper disposal for our residents, but will help prevent damage to our sewer infrastructure and our environment," says W. Crawley, CEO of Green Grease Recycling. “We ask folks to allow the turkey grease or fry oil to cool and pour it into the plastic container that we will provide.”

Green Grease wishes all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Look for Green Grease’s Environmental Green Team in Georgia to distribute containers and information on recycling and job creation in your neighborhood.