Fats, Oil, and Grease (FOG)
Bacon, ice cream, and peanut butter are more than just tasty treats—they are sources of fats, oils, and grease, (FOG) and they can have serious effects on the County’s sewer system if poured down the kitchen sink. As FOG builds up in sewer pipes, wastewater has a harder time flowing through the pipes. Eventually, the flow can back up until the sewage spills into a nearby stream, your street, your yard, or even out of your toilet.
Pouring grease or food scraps down the drain (even if you have a garbage disposal) sends FOG into the sewer system where every little bit adds up and can create major clogs. Just one teaspoon of fats, oils, and grease poured down the drain by every person in Gwinnett County is the equivalent of dumping 18, 55-gallon drums of FOG directly into the sewer system.
Most FOG-related overflows happen on residential sewer lines, so reducing FOG can also affect homeowner costs. If a clog happens on your property, it is your responsibility to take care of it, and depending on the size of a spill there could also be a fine. Simply changing some food preparation and clean-up habits could greatly reduce your risks for damage from a backup in your home or the expense of replacing your sewer line. Cleaning up spills and repairing pipelines also affects the bottom line of DWR operations, which ultimately determines the sewer rates residents pay.
The good news is that you can make a difference in reducing FOG. Read more about fats, oils, and grease and the proper way to dispose of each.
Fats typically come from meat and dairy sources and are usually in solid form at room temperature. Placing these foods in the garbage disposal temporarily reduces the size of the food but does not really change the likelihood of creating a clog. They should be thrown directly into the trash or another container to put in the trash for proper disposal. If you’re not sure if something has fat in it, check the nutrition label.
Some examples of fats: meat trimmings, uncooked poultry skin, butter, cheese, ice cream, and peanut butter
Oils come from plant sources like vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and more. They may be used as food toppings, such as salad dressings and sandwich condiments, or used to cook food. Oil remains liquid at room temperature and can coat pipes and get into tiny nooks and crannies, which makes it easier for FOG to stick to the inside of the pipe.
Hot water and soap are good at breaking up oils in your sink and getting it off of your dishes, but it does not eliminate the oil. The oils will reform in the pipes as the hot water cools, which can happen before the water even leaves your house plumbing. Pour used oil into a jar or can with a lid before placing it in the trash.
Some examples of oils: salad dressing, cooking oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, and olive oil
Grease occurs when fats from food melt under heat when frying, boiling, and baking. Grease is deceptive because it is a liquid after cooking but turns into a solid after cooling. When poured down the drain, it will cool in the sewer pipes, harden, and start a clog. Just like oils, the grease can start to harden again before it leaves your house plumbing or your sewer lateral. Your best defense is not to put FOG into the pipes.
Pour liquid grease into a grease can or other container with a lid and place in the trash once it has cooled. Wipe down greasy cookware before rinsing. Running hot water over greasy cookware in the sink only sends the grease into the pipes where it hardens.
Some examples of grease: bacon or sausage grease, gravy, skin from boiled poultry, mayonnaise, and cooked or melted fat from meat
Restaurants and businesses play a major role in reducing FOG in Gwinnett County’s sewer system. Gwinnett County established a FOG prevention program in 2000, which operates under the U.S. Clean Water Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act.
County inspectors make sure businesses are following the regulations that help protect the environment and other property owners from spills and overflows. The FOG ordinance outlines steps restaurants and food service establishments must take to keep FOG out of the County’s system. Some non-restaurant businesses and government institutions such as daycares, assisted living facilities, schools, hotels, and hospitals are subject to it as well—essentially any place that processes or sells food-based products or operates a commercial kitchen.
For more information on restaurants and best management practices to reduce FOG, visit Commercial Kitchen FOG Best Management Practices.
If you own or manage a restaurant and have any questions, contact the FOG Management Supervisor at 678.376.6713.