It is that time of year when we turn our focus to the holidays. For most of us, that means lots of family time, cooking, baking and, of course, eating! The first thing that comes to my mind is the wonderful smell of a roasting turkey. I’m obviously not the only one. Forty-five million others in the United States will be enjoying turkey, too - although our cooking methods may be different.
Some love to grill their turkey and others will deep fry it in peanut oil. I prefer a turkey roasted in the oven. No matter how the turkey is cooked, there will be grease. When our plates are clean and the leftovers stored, there will be a lot of kitchen fats, oils and grease (FOG) to be handled.
FOG can originate from vegetable or animal sources, such as dairy products, vegetable oil, olive oil, or fats from cooking meats. Fats, oils and grease poured into the wastewater system (sewers) will cool and become a sticky layer on sewer pipes. The sticky mess then attracts and holds other food particles and debris that flows through the drains causing blockages or clogs. These clogs can then cause overflows. Removing these blockages is very costly, both financially and to the health of the environment.
The Athens Wastewater Department spends tens of thousands of dollars removing these clogs, the cost of which is passed on to the consumer. We all know who that is!
In 2012, the Wastewater Department, in cooperation with Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful, developed the FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) Collection and Recycling Program to help reduce the occurrence of clogs. This program provides an easy way to recycle household FOGs. KALB continues to work with the Wastewater Department educating residents about the dangers of improper disposal of fats, oils and grease because there is still so much that is not being captured.
In our haste to get things done, we often think that “just a little bit” of grease down the drain won’t hurt. With a hot water chaser, it will be ok. That is false thinking. Eventually that small amount of oil or grease will cool and attach itself to the pipe. All those little fatty party animals will get together and invite everything else you let slip down the drain to join them. That could become a costly plumbing repair bill for Joe Homeowner. If you don’t create enough fats, oils or grease to collect for recycling, let the fats cool, then wipe the pan and discard the fats into your trash.
How To Participate
FOG Collection and Recycling containers are available free of charge to Athens and Limestone County residents. Just pick one up from the white FOG cages located at the following locations:
• Athens-Limestone Recycling Center – 15896 Lucas Ferry Rd.
• KALB Office – 125 East Street
• Utility Building – 1806 Wilkinson St.
• Various apartment complexes in Athens (check with apartment management)
Once the container is full, return it to the bottom shelf of any of the collection cages. The contents will be processed and used in a variety of products.
Since the program started in 2012, nearly 4,000 gallons of fats, oils and grease have been recycled. If you produce fats, oils or grease in your kitchen, then this program is designed for you. Please take the time to keep these harmful materials out of the wastewater system and allow them to be useful again.
Pick up your FOG container now so you have it ready for your holiday cooking, then continue to keep grease out of the sewer lines by using the program throughout the year.
Call KALB or the Athens Wastewater Department if you have questions about this program.
By: Lynne Hart