FOG and Food Waste - Residential

Think that can go down the drain? Think again.


Remember that bacon grease you poured down the drain this morning? Or last night’s oily melted cheese you tossed in the sink? Sure, it seemed harmless, but fats, oils, and grease (FOG) create a huge problem for your pipes. In fact, FOG combined with roots in the sewer system cause sewer backups and overflows by turning into massive, cement-like clogs. This creates an environmentally harmful mess to clean up. And who pays for it? You do! Through increased sewer rates and costly repairs.

FOG clog example

Don’t get clogged!


Cooking oils, condiments such as salad dressings and sandwich spreads, meat juice, and fat fall into the fats, oils, and grease category. When disposed of down the kitchen drain and garbage disposers, these items can cause blockages in sewer pipes. Grease related blockages could cause the sewer to back up into your home through sinks, drains, and toilets. Cleaning and plumbing repairs associated with these backups can be very expensive and disruptive.

Residents are encouraged to do their part to help prevent sewer blockages. Doing so will benefit your home, your pocketbook, and your community.

How FOG Clogs Pipes?


Just as fat accumulates and causes blockages in human arteries, oil and grease solidifies and accumulates in household pipes restricting the flow of wastewater and causing sewer backups and overflows.

FOG separates from other liquids as it goes down your drain. The FOG cools and sticks to household pipes and sewer pipes. Over time, pipes become clogged and wastewater flow becomes restricted. The clogged pipe back up and floods your home with wastewater. Or, it causes wastewater to overflow onto the street. The untreated wastewater can then flow to local waterways. Sewer overflows can harm the environment. Not only is FOG costly to the environment, it is costly to ratepayers.

What are the proper methods for disposing of fats, oils, and grease in the kitchen? Proper disposal is easy!

  • Fats, oils, and grease should never be poured down the sink. Sink drains and garbage disposals are not designed to properly handle these materials.
  • Before washing, scrape and dry wipe pots, pans and dishes with paper towels and dispose of materials in the trash.
  • Pour fats, oils, and grease after it has cooled into a container, such as an empty jar or can. Once the container is full, secure the lid and place it in the trash, or the oil can be returned to the original container and taken to the City’s Recovery Operations Center at 550 Atkinson Way, Monday through Saturday 8 AM – 4 PM. For more information on FOG, visit askhrgreen.org.
  • Use sink strainers to catch food items, and empty the strainer into the trash.

Food Waste Disposal



Don’t feed the garbage disposal



Using a garbage disposal seems to make mealtime clean-up a lot easier, but this kitchen catchall, the mother of all modern convenience, can actually do more harm than good.

It’s true, garbage disposals can break up nearly any organic material you put down them, but that’s all they do…they break things apart into smaller pieces. 

The problem exists on the other side of the connection where food leaves the blades and enters your plumbing on its way to the sanitary sewer system. This system is designed to manage the flow of wastewater exiting your home, not the scraps and shreds of food leftover on your dinner plates.

When these substances are washed down the drain, they cling to pipe walls. Building up over time, they block the flow of wastewater and lead to sewer backups into homes, onto streets, down storm drains and into local waterways.

The best way to protect your pipes and prevent costly blockages and backups is to always be mindful of what you wash down the drain.

Use a strainer in your sink drain to catch food particle that attempt to escape, and throw the scraps into the trash.