Cooking a turkey? Love gravy? This holiday season, and every day of the year, the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) urges residents to put your sewer lines on a fat-free diet and be careful when disposing of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) after cooking. When grease is washed down the sink it cools and sticks to the inside lining of sewer pipes. Avoid this by never pouring FOG down the sink or toilet.

On a daily basis, the ECUA wages a war against FOG, from entering into the wastewater collection and treatment systems. If not disposed of properly, the waste can result in an accumulation of residue, which can potentially cause blockages and decreases pipe capacity. As these blockages build, sewer lines can become clogged and back up into homes and businesses, especially restaurants, causing an unsightly and unsanitary situation.

Gabriel Brown, ECUA environmental program development specialist recommends, “When cooking during the holiday’s, place your grease in a container, let it harden, then dispose of it in your garbage. If you have children or pets, and hot grease may be dangerous, freeze the grease in the freezer, and then toss it in the garbage.”

Although the terms “oil” and “grease” are often used interchangeably, they are different substances.  Grease is typically a solid white residue left in a pan after frying bacon or cooking other meats.

Oil, such as vegetable oil, is typically a liquid at room temperature. The popular trend of frying a whole turkey in an outdoor fryer for Thanksgiving or Christmas can result in about 20 gallons of used cooking oil.

Fryer oil is not the only source of increased FOG going to sewers during the holidays. Many pre-prepared foods and food mixes contain some kind of fat, oil or grease. Salad dressings, butter, dairy products, even baked goods contain FOG. To keep FOG out of sewers, the ECUA suggests scraping all food scraps from pots, pans, cooking utensils and dishes into the trash before washing or rinsing dishes.

In the spirit of sustainability, the ECUA asks residents to dispose of excess grease and fat by adhering to the following methods when disposing of cooking products:

• Never pour FOG down the drain, sink or garbage disposal.                                                 
• Pour FOG into jars, cans, and plastic tubs. Let contents cool and solidify. When the container is full, throw away with your trash.                                                                                                                                      
• Mix cooking oil with an absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds, place in a container (lid securely fastened) for disposal with your trash.
• For greasy pans, pour off the grease into a container, and use a paper towel to wipe out the remaining grease in the pan prior to washing.
• Store the container in the freezer, which will keep the grease solid, and pull it out whenever you have fats, oils and grease to dispose of. When it gets full, dump the whole container into the trash.

The ECUA is aggressively working toward improving its environmental impact. Local business and residential customers are being encouraged to create a clean and safe environment through the FOG Education Program.

To learn more about the ECUA’s environmental program, and receive additional information, visit