cooking oil in a bowl on top of oven.

How to Dispose of Cooking Oil

Waste cooking oil is a natural by-product businesses and households create, often when frying foods in their kitchens. It’s essential you do not pour cooking oil down your sink or drain when disposing of cooking oil. Disposal of cooking oil in the UK must be done following the proper procedures to avoid causing blockages.

The good news is that most waste cooking oil can be recycled and turned into biofuels – a renewable energy source. There are many more domestic and commercial methods for disposing of cooking oil that should be followed to stay safe, legal, and protect the environment when getting rid of used cooking oil.

Learn how to dispose of cooking oil from your business or home in this guide.

How to dispose of 
used cooking oil

What to do with used cooking oil in the UK depends on where the waste is produced – by a business or at home. The best options to dispose of cooking oil for homes and businesses are to reuse it where possible, or store in a secure container and send it for recycling or disposal.

It’s essential that you don’t pour any used oil down the drain. There’s a common myth that pouring boiling water down after it will help. It may provide a brief benefit, but the oil will just solidify further down the pipe or in your drain, still creating a blockage and other problems.

Understand how to get rid of cooking oil in the best possible way with the following sections for businesses and households.

cooking oil poured onto food frying in commercial kitchen.

Commercial cooking 
oil disposal

Commercial kitchens, restaurants, bakeries, catering companies, and any other business that produces waste cooking oil must dispose of cooking oil in line with the Food Safety Act 1990. Guidelines set out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) state that waste cooking oil must be stored securely and collected by a licensed waste carrier.

Businesses cannot dispose of used cooking oil with other food or kitchen waste. This is because it may cause spillages, bad smells, pollution problems, and contamination (which may result in waste removal being refused). Companies pouring cooking oil down drains or sewers can also face fines and prosecution.

To dispose of cooking oil as a business you must first store it in a secure container. This should have a lid, be leak-free, and secure so no oil will spill out. The type of container you use depends on how much waste cooking oil you produce. Some businesses have a designated storage tank, while others use waste drums and barrels.

You must then arrange collection of your used cooking oil by a licensed waste carrier – whatever type of business you run. This ensures your business meets its duty of care responsibilities, covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The licensed waste carrier will then transport your cooking oil to an appropriate facility for recycling or disposal.

Domestic cooking 
oil disposal

Frying bacon for breakfast, whipping up a stir-fry for dinner, or deep frying chips can leave you with leftover cooking oil. Normally the amount is fairly small compared to commercial kitchens, which means there are a few quick and convenient ways to dispose of used cooking oil at home:

  • Reuse cooking oil – the greenest option is to reuse your cooking oil. This can be done once or twice, as cooking oil is reusable just it gets dirty so needs cleaning. Strain the old cooking oil through a coffee filter and keep in a secure container in a dark place until you need it.
  • Solidify and dispose – you can freeze or refrigerate small amounts of used cooking oil, then throw it away with your household general waste.
  • Combine with other materials – for faster disposal combine cooking oil with any cat litter, sawdust, or sand to soak it up before throwing away.
  • Pour in with general waste – if you have a really small amount of waste cooking oil, you can pour it into your general waste bin. It’s best to put in a non-recyclable container, or soak it up with a paper towel or food scraps, to avoid it leaking out of a bin bag.
  • Recycle cooking oil – check if your local household recycling centre accepts old cooking oil or if it can be placed in a food waste recycling bin (in a recyclable container).

How to dispose of 
used vegetable oil

Vegetable oil is a type of cooking oil that covers types made from plant materials (compared to the likes of fish oil, lard, butter, and other fats). You can dispose of used vegetable oil with the same methods for getting rid of waste cooking oil from businesses and homes.

You can also compost small amounts of vegetable oil. However, it must only be a tiny amount, as adding too much waste vegetable oil to a compost pile slows the process. This is because oil creates a water-resistant barrier that reduces airflow and displaces water – necessary for aerobic composting. You can compost small amounts of vegetable oil such as:

  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Corn oil
  • Canola oil
small full bottle of cooking oil on table.

Recycling cooking oil

Recycling cooking oil means it can be reused rather than ending up in a landfill. It also avoids contaminating other waste streams and blocking pipes when disposed of improperly. You can add very small amounts of cooking oil to your food waste recycling services though. For larger volumes, recycling cooking oil should be done separately.

Most cooking oil is recycled to create fuel alternatives or be used as animal feed. Some recycled cooking oil is repurposed into cleaning materials and other household products, such as soaps, shampoo, moisturisers, and lamp oil. Cooking oil recycling puts such waste material to much better use than going to a landfill site.

Why is recycling 
cooking oil important?

Recycling cooking oil is important as it saves on the energy and resources required to create new cooking oil. Like most oils, it doesn’t become useless once you’ve cooked with it – just dirty – so reusing or recycling used cooking oil is the best option. Plus, it prevents drains and sewers becoming blocked due to improper cooking oil disposal.

Used cooking oil recycling can convert it into biofuels for heating, power generation, and to fuel vehicles. These biofuels generally burn clean and produce zero carbon monoxide. Cooking oil recycling also reduces any risks of contaminating the environment by diverting it away from landfill, where it poses a fire risk and adds to pollution levels.

How is cooking 
oil recycled?

One of the main ways cooking oil is recycled is by converting it into a biofuel such as biodiesel. After removing waste cooking oil from your business or household it will be transported to a specialist oil recycling centre. Here the general process for recycling cooking oil is as follows:

  • Used cooking oil is assessed and graded for quality by inspecting its colour and clarity. This helps define how long the recycling process may take.
  • Food and solid waste are removed as the cooking oil is sieved and cleaned in a tank. The oil is normally heated at the same time to separate small debris and impurities, which settle at the bottom and are removed.
  • The cleaned oil is filtered until it meets the requirements of biofuel refineries.
  • Once the cooking oil meets the required standards, it’s sent to a dedicated biodiesel refinery for the transesterification process, which converts it into biodiesel.
  • This recycled biodiesel is then used in relevant vehicles, for heating, and to power electricity generators.

Arrange used 
cooking oil collection

Organise waste cooking oil collection for your business or household with Business Waste today. Get free containers delivered to securely store your waste cooking oil on your site, then just pay for collection. Arrange used cooking oil collection as a one-off or on a daily, weekly, or fortnightly schedule to meet your needs.

One of our licensed waste carriers will collect your used cooking oil and transport it to a nearby specialist facility for recycling. Thanks to our nationwide network we offer waste cooking oil collection anywhere in the UK, whatever industry you work in and however much leftover oil you need disposing.

Get a free quote for used cooking oil collection near you by calling 0800 211 8390 today – or contact us online.

cooking oil in frying pan.

Learn more about 
waste oil recycling

free bins icon.

Get a free quote for cooking oil disposal

Get a fast FREE quote for waste cooking oil disposal

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of cooking oil
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK