Can I pour cooking oil down the drain? |

Can I pour cooking oil down the drain?

Joseph Walls
Ask Waste Watchers
Vail CO Colorado

I have several gallons of used cooking oil from a turkey fryer to dispose of. Is it acceptable to pour the oil down the drain? Sharee in Eagle

Thanks for the great question, Sharee, and for taking an interest in disposing of your cooking oil properly.

Pouring oils, fats and cooking grease down the drain is never a very good idea. Here are three good reasons for this and a few preferable methods of disposal.

The first reason is the adverse effect fats and oils have on the plumbing in your house and underground sewage pipes. When greasy foods are ground up in your garbage disposal, or oil is poured down the sink, the fats tend to congeal along the walls of your pipes. Over time, the accumulation of grease can restrict and even block the flow of water, which can lead to an expensive and messy cleanup. Using corrosive chemicals to reduce the grease accumulation is not a good option, since these chemicals can corrode your pipes.

A second reason is the effect improperly disposed of fats have on our wastewater treatment facilities. Strict limits are set by the federal government on the amount of oils that can be discharged. As the population of Eagle County increases, so does the volume of oils that the treatment plants receive. At some point, these facilities will no longer be able to keep up with this volume. When that happens, expensive equipment upgrades will be required to stay in compliance. The cost of these upgrades will be passed on to you, the consumer. Fats and oils that you prevent from entering the sewer will postpone the need for implementation of these upgrades.

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A third reason not to pour plant- and animal-derived fats down the drain is that the opportunity to recycle and reuse the materials has been irretrievably lost. A variety of useful products can be made from recycled cooking oil such as alternative fuels for diesel engines (biodiesel) and home heating oil, thus reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Recycled cooking oil is also frequently used as an additive in livestock feed, pet food and certain cosmetics.

Here are some preferable ways of disposing fats and oils:

• Greasy solids and semisolids should be discarded in the trash.

• Small amounts of cooking oil in a pan should be absorbed with paper towels and put in the trash.

• If you have more cooking oil than can be reasonably absorbed with paper towels, collect it in a disposable container and bring it to the Household Hazardous Waste facility. We accept oils from Eagle County residents free of charge and have already recycled more than 500 gallons of oil this year.

Joseph Walls is hazardous-waste specialist at the Eagle County Household Hazardous Waste facility, located at the landfill in Wolcott. The facility is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Call 970-328-3468 or visit for information.

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