Commercial Grease Trap

Get the FOG outa here!

What is FOG? 

F.O.G. stands for Fats, Oils, and Grease. Very common in residential and commercial kitchens, FOG is a detrimental waste byproduct of preparing and cooking various animal and processed foods. Most common sources of FOG trace their roots to meat fats, dairy fats, and vegetable oils. These three FOG sources are widely used throughout the food service industry to create tasty and satisfying menu items and can be found in just about any kitchen.

Like cholesterol clogging our arteries, FOG that is poured down sinks and drains attaches to the sewer plumbing inside and outside of our homes and businesses. Over time this FOG build-up acts to constrict and throttle flow through the pipes, resulting in decreased plumbing capacity and even worse, the following:

  • Blockage of pipes within homes and businesses, causing sewer back-ups into living/working spaces, creating an unhealthy environment. These back-ups are usually very unpleasant and accompanied by expensive clean-up and repairs/restoration.
  • Blockage of city sewer pipes in public areas outside homes and businesses, causing sanitary sewer overflows into streets and waterways, endangering wildlife and public health. Nearly half of these overflows in a typical municipality can be attributed to excess FOG in the system.
  • And lastly, clogging and damage to equipment used in the collection and treatment of sewage, adding significant costs to the operation of these systems. Pumps, valves, instruments, and other process components can be impaired or disabled when excessive FOG is encountered in their operation.

What are businesses doing?

Commercial Grease Trap

Commercial Grease Trap

Municipalities typically have programs to reduce FOG within their sewer collection and treatment systems. These programs are primarily aimed at commercial kitchens and food service establishments, but they benefit all who use and/or maintain the sewer system. The programs incorporate use of grease control devices and kitchen best-management-practices to minimize FOG impact. Yes, lurking below the kitchens of our favorite restaurants are the workhorses of these FOG control programs. Commercial grease interceptors and traps of many different sizes capture and store FOG, holding it for routinely scheduled disposal or recycling.

What can you do?

Thanks to Covid-19, many of our communities are not going out to dinner as often, and it is important to realize the previously mentioned impact FOG can have in our own homes.  While we do not have grease traps and interceptors inside our homes, we can minimize FOG discharge by collecting and properly disposing of generated greases and oils. Good kitchen habits that help keep FOG out of your plumbing include:

  • for large amounts of excess oil such as from deep frying, pour into a twist-top container and allow to cool before tightly capping and disposing in the trash.
  • for small amounts of residual grease and oil-based dressings on plates and pans can still contribute to clogs, so please remember to wipe them down with a paper towel before washing up. The greasy paper towels, napkins, and food scraps can then be placed into the green curbside bin for composting.
Hamburger wrapped in a donut

Human Grease Trap

So, spread the word like butter on toast, and do not FOG-et this important information the next time you are cooking up a delicious doughnut breakfast burger!

This is a friendly reminder that there are many reasons and ways to keep FOG out of the sewer.

This article was authored by Rob Scates, Water/Wastewater Operations Superintendent, City of Healdsburg Municipal Utilities Department, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.