The temporary closures of restaurants and increased number of people staying home due to social distancing and other safety guidelines have led to a significant rise in the amount of cooking and discarding of food in homes and apartments.
Clackamas Water Environment Services (WES) advises homeowners to avoid pouring fats, oils and grease (FOG) down kitchen sinks and garbage disposals after meals or while washing dishes as it can lead to backups, overflows and expensive pipe damage.
Over time, FOG builds up by sticking to the inner sides of pipes and forms thick clusters that clog pipes, which can result in:
- sewage overflows in your home or neighbors’ homes, requiring expensive cleanups
- overflows in yards, streets and parks
- overflows that can carry pollutants into streams and rivers
- possible sewer rate increases due to repair costs for damages to sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities
FOG is found in many common foods and ingredients, including:
- butter, lard, shortening
- cooking oil
- dairy products
- salad dressings
- sour cream
- baking goods
- food scraps
Problems caused by FOG can be prevented by:
- Pouring cooled fats, oils and grease into a covered, disposable container and tossing it into trash. A heat-safe container, such as an empty soup can also be used for this and stored it in the freezer. Once solidified, toss can into the garbage
- Soaking up remaining FOG with paper towels and placing in the trash
- Wiping all pots, pans, dishes, and cooking utensils with a paper towel prior to washing to absorb the grease.
- Scraping food scraps into compost or trash before washing dishes
- Using sink strainers to catch food waste while washing dishes