The Surprising Impact of Cooking Oil and Grease on Waterways

Waterways are harmed by cooking oil and grease pollution.

The Grease Hero was developed to reduce plumbing issues in the home while eliminating environmental pollution from cooking oil and grease in our waterways. When used cooking oil and grease enter local waterways, our clean water supplies, wildlife and food sources are compromised.

The EPA states that: animal fats and vegetable oils are regulated under 40 CFR 112, which has identical requirements for petroleum and non-petroleum oils. Petroleum oils, vegetable oils, and animal fats share common physical properties and produce similar environmental effects. Such as:

  • Causing devastating physical effects, such as coating animals and plants with oil and suffocating them by oxygen depletion;
  • Being toxic and forming toxic products;
  • Destroying future and existing food supplies and animal habitats;
  • Producing rancid odors;
  • Foul shorelines, clog water treatment plants, and catch fire when ignition sources are present; and
  • Form products that linger in the environment for many years.

Neighborhood Impact of Improper Cooking Oil and Grease Disposal

Whether you live in a city center or a suburb, the way you dispose of used cooking oil and grease matters. Rinsing a pan of cooking oil and grease down the kitchen sink might seem harmless enough to you. Many people probably do not even give it a second thought. However, disposing of cooking oil and grease this way creates major problems for you and your neighborhood.

The EPA estimates that American households improperly dump about 193 million gallons of used oil every year, or roughly the equivalent of 17 Exxon Valdez oil spills. (EPA)

For instance, if you rinse a pan of grease down your kitchen sink and all of your neighbors do the same thing after cooking a meal, that is a lot of cooking oil and grease making its way into your local sewer network. The cooking oil and grease rinsed down the sinks will adhere and coat the inside of the sewer and slowly begin to restrict the flow of wastewater. Once the wastewater is no longer able to pass through, it will have now where to go except back up into your homes, the neighborhood and nearby waterways.

Long-Term Impact on Waterways

When sewers overflow into the environment and waterways, the damage caused is not quickly repaired. Contaminants in the environment can look and smell pretty bad, but their impact goes beyond just aesthetics. Some pollutants resist breakdown and accumulate in the food chain. These pollutants can be consumed or absorbed by fish and wildlife, which in turn may be eaten by us. (NOAA)

From the EPA: A key concern with sewer overflows which enter rivers, lakes, streams, or brackish waters is their effect on water quality. When bodies of water cannot be used for drinking water, fishing, or recreation, society experiences an economic loss. Tourism and waterfront home values may fall. Fishing and shellfish harvesting may be restricted or halted. Sewer overflows can also close beaches.

We can all have a positive impact on our neighborhood and local waterways by properly disposing of cooking oil and grease after making a meal. Small and consistent actions by all of us can lead to real and tangible environmental change.


Learn more about Grease Hero.

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