The Hazards of Fats, Oils and Grease

Learn how fats, oils and grease (FOG) used in food preparation clog sewer lines and proper alternatives to disposal of food waste.  View the informational brochure here.

Where does grease come from?

Most of us know that grease is a product of cooking.

Grease is found in:

  • Meat fats
  • Lard
  • Cooking oil
  • Shortening
  • Butter and margarine
  • Food scraps
  • Baked goods
  • Sauces
  • Dairy products

Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG)

Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) are used in food processing and in the preparation of meals. Kitchen waste containing these materials, as well as water that has been used to wash cooking equipment, contain waste FOG. When waste FOG is poured down the sink, grease sticks to the inside of sewer pipes where it cools and solidifies, congealing and building up over time, restricting or clogging wastewater flow. As these fatbergs begin to clog the sewer lines, layer upon layer of other non-disposable items (like wet wipes) that are in the sewer pipes collect with the fat, resulting in sewer blockages and overflows that can cause health hazards by harboring dangerous bacteria, including Listeria and E.coli. Fatbergs may also cause expensive property damage and threaten the environment. According to Newsweek, these gross grease giants are threatening cities. They can grow to 6 feet tall, more than 800 feet long and weigh as much as four humpback whales!

As these fatbergs begin to clog the sewer lines, layer upon layer of other non-disposable items (like wet wipes) that are in the sewer pipes collect with the fat, resulting in sewer blockages and overflows that can cause health hazards by harboring dangerous bacteria, including Listeria and E.coli. Fatbergs may also cause expensive property damage and threaten the environment.

According to Newsweek, these gross grease giants are threatening cities. They can grow to 6 feet tall, more than 800 feet long and weigh as much as four humpback whales!

FOG Q&A

Q. What are businesses doing to prevent FOG in the sewer system?

A. FOG is discharged not only by residents but also by businesses and food service facilities. Food service facilities are required to install and maintain grease interceptors and have a management plan in place to prevent FOG discharge. Other industrial businesses are regulated and inspected regularly to ensure minimal FOG discharge. Working together we can help prevent sewer clogs and sanitary sewer overflows, which will help to protect our environment.

Q. Isn’t throwing grease into the landfill just creating a different problem?

A. FOG effectively breaks down under landfill conditions over time. Fats, oils and grease can cause significant environmental problems when they enter the wastewater system.

What You Can Do To Help?

  • Never pour grease or oil down any drain, including your toilet. 
  • Instead, pour grease into a can or jar that can be thrown away when cooled.
  • Use disposable towels to wipe fats, oils and grease from pots, pans and dishware prior to dishwashing.
  • Dispose of food waste directly into the trash. Scrape food scraps from pans and plates into the trash for disposal.
  • Put screens/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids and empty them into the trash.
  • Speak with your family, friends and neighbors about keeping grease out of the sewers.
  • Recycle used or unused cooking oil, like turkey fryer oil, at the Johnson County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, located at 5901 Jim Bills Road, Mission, KS 66203 just off Foxridge Drive and Lamar and within the gates of the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Plant.

How You Can Help

SCRAPE grease solids directly into a lined trash can. POUR cooled grease into a sealable container. WIPE remaining grease and debris with a paper towel. Please note: Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the sewer system. Hot water and other products such as soap that claim to dissolve grease only pass it down the line causing blockages and overflows.