Water & Sewer

Fats, Oils and Grease - Beware the Berg

After a meal, it can be tempting to rinse anything left over on your plates, pots or pans down the kitchen sink. But when the wrong things go down the drain, such as fats, oils and grease, it contributes to the creation and growth of pipe-blocking masses called fatbergs, that lead to big problems in your home and around the community. Even though your kitchen's leftover fats, oils and grease may be liquid now, they harden when they cool in your pipes and sewers. If you cool, wipe and toss these items in the green bin and never down the drain, you can help to  prevent backed up pipes, flooded basements, sewer overflows and damaged sewage pumps.

Hamilton residents play an important role in preventing fatbergs from going down the drain and entering their home and City pipes.   

The City has launched the Beware the Berg campaign to help educate residents of:

Episode 1: Beware the Berg!

Learn why it's important to always cool, wipe and toss your fats, oils and grease into the green bin alongside Kris P. Bacon, Slick and Stella Sauce.

Instead of rinsing your food scraps or hot cooking grease down the kitchen drain, you should always cool, wipe and toss these materials into your green bin. That's three easy steps!

1. Wait for any hot cooking fats and grease to cool down.

2. Wipe your plates, pots and pans to capture all fats, oils, grease and food scraps. You can wipe this waste with a spatula, cooking utensil, or paper towel.

3. Toss this waste into your green bin.

These steps are important because they effectively capture your fats, oils, grease and food scraps in a responsible way that doesn’t damage your home's pipes or cause blockages. If you don't have a green bin, you can cool, wipe and toss food waste into the garbage. Find out how to get a green bin for your home

Small amounts of liquid oils and grease that will not harden at room temperature (less than 500 mL) should be poured over top of food scraps in the green bin.
Large amounts of liquid oils and grease that will not harden at room temperature (500 mL to 40 L) should be poured into a sealed container and stored in a cool place until full. Once full, bring your container to one of our Community Recycling Centres. You can drop off a maximum of 40 L of liquid oil and grease per visit.

Fatbergs (or 'bergs') are large masses of solid waste that can form in your home and in City wastewater pipes. They are made of congealed fats, oils and grease that have been improperly disposed of down the drain and have cooled and hardened in the wastewater system. To make matters worse, when fats, oils and grease combine with unflushable waste that has been improperly flushed, the fatberg grows into a giant mass

Fatbergs stick to the interior siding of pipes and slowly grow as more waste sticks and hardens to the fatberg, and if left undetected, a fatberg can completely block wastewater flow, cause sewer backups into your home and lead to expensive repairs.

Clogged pipes

Clogged pipes can cause:

  • Raw sewage back-ups into your home and your neighbours home
  • Raw sewage overflows into neighbourhood yards, parks and streets
  • Potential contact with disease-causing bacteria
  • Potential messy and expensive basement clean-ups and or sewer line cleanup, as it may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy
  • Increased operational and maintenance costs for the City, which causes higher sewer and water rates for residents

Fats, oils and grease are often byproducts of cooking. Common examples include:

  • Animal fats left over from cooking meats (i.e. bacon grease, pan drippings, etc.)
  • Butter and margarine
  • Cooking grease and oils (i.e. lard, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.)
  • Condiments, dressings and marinades
  • Deep frying oils
  • Gravies
  • Sandwich spreads
  • Soups, stews and sauces
  • Yogurt

All food scraps, greasy napkins and other soiled paper products should also be tossed into the green bin.

Here are some tips to avoid blockages in your pipes due to fats, oil and grease:

  • Commercial additives such as detergents may not dissolve grease. The grease may pass through the sewer pipe from your home and harden in the main sewer line of your street and build up over time causing a blockage and potentially a back-up into your home.
  • Before washing your dishes, scrape grease, fat and cooking oil into your Green Cart. Soak up excess liquid grease with paper towels and place them in your Green Cart as well.
  • Use a sink basket or strainer to help prevent food residues from going down the drain.
  • We do not recommend garburators, as they do not stop grease from going down the drain and shredded food waste can create blockages in your sewer.
  • Take residential waste fats to one of the City’s Community Recycling Centres.  You can drop off 40L of waste fats per visit for free.