Oil Spoil: How to Properly Discard Cooking Oil
Holiday meal traditions that kick off with a Thanksgiving turkey and continue through festive meals for New Year’s can produce lots of cooking oil and grease waste. Following proper disposal procedures protects both the environment and home plumbing.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that vegetable oils and animal fats share common physical properties and create similar environmental effects as petroleum spills, including coating and suffocating animals and plants; polluting food supplies and habitats; fouling shorelines; and clogging water treatment plants.
Cooking oil and kitchen grease is the number one cause of stopped-up sewer pipes, according to Earth 911. Grease sticks to the lining of plumbing pipes in small particles, which catch onto each other and accumulate until the growing mass can block and backup sewage lines, leading to a nasty mess and sometimes costly repairs. This potential problem can be avoided simply and easily.
• For small amounts of kitchen grease such as lard, shortening or tallow that inevitably go down the drain, flush with cold water so that it solidifies, making it less likely to stick to pipes.
• Freeze small amounts of used cooking fats, oils and grease in a container like a used coffee can with a tight-sealing lid, then place it in the trash.
• Larger and unfrozen quantities of used cooking oil may be taken to an area recycling center for proper disposal year-round. No special container is required and the liquid is emptied from the consumer’s container onsite. Don’t combine the contents with anything else, so it can be repurposed by vendors that collect it from the centers.
This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.