Fat and grease disposal and recycling

Fat and grease is a byproduct of our food waste, usually from meat fat, lard, oil, butter or dairy products. Although there are many culinary uses and other applications for fat and grease, it is often disposed of as a waste product. This article will outline the proper way of disposing and recycling fat and grease, as well as a few interesting facts about these products.

Fat and grease disposal and recycling

The first use of fat and grease

The earliest historical account of people using fat and grease dates back to 2400 B.C. in Ancient Egypt. It has been noted that Ancient Egyptians used grease, oil and water to make lubricants that could reduce friction. A painted relief on the wall of an Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb shows a worker pouring lubricant to assist in moving large statues.

What are fat and grease made from?

Traditionally, fat and grease are made when cooking or rendering animal fat. Yellow grease, for example, is made using darker parts of a hog. Brown grease is a byproduct of cooking beef or mutton fats. There are other types of fat and grease, but all of the traditional kinds come from animal fat being rendered.

In recent times, synthetic grease has grown in popularity as an alternative to animal-based fats and grease. These synthetics consist of soaps, artificial thickeners or petroleum oils.

How do you properly dispose of fat and grease?

Although many people pour their fat or grease down the sink, this is bad for the environment and could damage your sink by creating a blockage. Instead, the best way to dispose of grease and fat is to throw them away in your bin. With that said, there are a few things to watch out for when disposing of fat and grease:

• Let the fat and grease cool and solidify before throwing it away
• Use a container or drum to store the cooling grease or fat for easy disposal
• Use a paper towel to wipe away leftover grease or fat from pots and pans

A good way to handle fat and grease is to prevent its accumulation in sinks and drains. Thankfully, there are many tools available for this very job such as sink strainers, grease traps and enzyme dosing systems.

    • Sink strainers stop accidental food waste from entering your sink and drains.
    • Grease traps are fitted to drain pipes to separate fats and grease from wastewater.
    • Enzyme dosing systems break down fat and grease that has already accumulated in your drains.

What are the problems with fat and grease waste?

Fat and grease are insoluble in water, so when they are improperly disposed of down a sink, they don’t disperse. Instead, the fat and grease coagulate and create blockages. Even if they don’t cause a blockage at your end, fat and grease entering the sewerage system can lead to pollution in streams and rivers.

Can you recycle fat and grease?

The best way to recycle fat and grease is to repurpose them for your cooking. If you have accumulated a lot of fat and grease from cooking, you can store it and use it later on. Just remember to pair your grease with whatever you are cooking – so if you are frying vegetables for a vegetarian dish, don’t use animal grease or fat.

What are the problems with fat and grease waste?

Fat and grease can create blockages in sewers and pipes if they are improperly disposed of down sinks and drains. In the UK, more than 5,000 properties are flooded each year and it is often fat or grease blockages that are the culprit. It costs around £100 million per year to reactively unblock sewerage as a result of fat and grease waste. If left unchecked, the build-up can create ‘fatbergs’, which are rock-like masses of waste built up over time. The largest fatberg ever found was in Liverpool – it measured 84 metres in length and weighed over 90 tonnes.

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