7 Responsible Ways To Dispose Of Cooking Oils & Fats

7 Responsible Ways To Dispose Of Cooking Oils & Fats

 
Between roast dinners and fried food, we can be left with a lot of excess oil and fat to dispose of. Before you pour it down the sink, you need to think twice! 

Oil and fats that are incorrectly disposed of down sinks and drains end up causing huge problems in sewers, creating fatbergs. Today we're sharing some simple ways that you can dispose of oils responsibly. 

Harmful ways to dispose of oils & fats

oil
No matter what kind of oil or fat you use, don't do this!

There are three things you should never do with cooking oils and fats:

  • Rinse them down the sink
  • Flush them down the toilet 
  • Put them in the rubbish bin 

You might think that a small amount of oil rinsed down the sink won't do any harm, but it all adds up. Oil and water don't combine, meaning that the oils and fats gather together, producing fatbergs. 

Pouring oils and fats directly into your rubbish bin can result in oils spilling out when bags rip. This can attract vermin and potentially be harmful to the environment. For this reason, it's important that we take great care to place oil and fat in sealed containers when we dispose of it.

What are fatbergs? 

Fatbergs are large clumps of fat, baby wipes and sanitary items that block sewers and drainage systems. The fat mainly originates from cooking fat and oil which has been put down drains - it can cause chaos! 

The oil and fat in drains mix with wet wipes, nappies and other sanitary items that have been wrongly flushed down toilets. The mass solidifies, blocking the system. As sewage can no longer pass through the system, you can end up with flooding and sewage leaks. These leaks destroy homes and damage wildlife. 

How to dispose of cooking oils & fats (the right way!)

1. Use a paper towel 

paper towel
Mop it up.

If there is just a small amount of fat left on your pans and trays, don't rinse it off in the sink - take a piece of kitchen roll and wipe it off. Dispose of the kitchen roll in your general waste bin and wash up your pans as normal. 

TOP TIP: If you're in the middle of cooking a dish that looks a little oily, dab the fat off with a piece of kitchen roll. 

2. Feed the birds

Used oil and fats don't have to be destined for the bin. Combine suet, lard or other solid fats with a birdseed mix to make bird feeder balls. Leave the mix to cool and solidify. Hang the ball out in your garden and watch the wildlife roll in! 

TOP TIP: Put the mixture into half a coconut shell for a sturdy mould. 

3. Check with your council 

Some councils will gladly collect cooking oil to dispose of correctly. Some will even use it to make fuel! 

4. How to reuse fat

fat
Did you know that you can reuse it?

If you like getting your money's worth, you can actually reuse fats! All you need to do is filter the used fat through a coffee filter to remove any pieces of food and then pop it into a container. Put the container in the fridge and leave overnight. When it has cooled, you'll find a jelly on top. Remove this before use. 

5. Freeze it

Looking for a long-term option? Your freezer will come in handy. Take a spare ice cube tray and fill each cube up with your used, filtered oil or lard. You can reuse it whenever you need to without having to worry about it going bad. 

6. Bin it

We may use kitchen roll to mop up and dispose of small amounts of oil, but what about larger quantities? It's easy! Take a non-recyclable container and pour excess oil and fats into it. Seal it well and dispose of it in the general waste bin. If you don't have a non-recyclable container, you can use a jar or a bottle. 

7. How to reuse cooking oil

oil
Make your oil last.

Reusing oil is even easier! If you've cooked using oil, and need to cook something else afterwards, just use that same oil again. If you intend to store the oil for future use, you may wish to filter it first.

Think about what you're reusing the oil with and whether it's appropriate. You don't want to reuse oil that's been used to cook meat in a vegetarian dish or baked goods. 

 Do you know of any other ways to dispose of oil and fat? Let us know in the comments below! 

Author

Joanne A

Editor

Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

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  1. Author Terence Bannon on January 14, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Heat the oil or fat and place a slice or two into the pan to soak it up. Fry the bread until crispy and serve with any fried or grilled breakfast foods. It's delicious with a fried egg on top and doesn't take long to make.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 14, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Great idea, Terence!

    Reply
  2. Author M coyle on January 14, 2019 at 11:56 am

    I thought there was a maximum number of times due to acrylamide that you can re-use oil and fat. This is all old news and inadequate infirnation- even filtering does not prevent build up of carcinogens in re-used oil. Better perhaps to use your site for raising awareness and a petition to councils to collect at roadside with other recyclables.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 14, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      Hi there! If you have a deep fat fryer, it's completely safe to reuse oil. It would be brilliant if all councils were able to collect it.

    2. Author Janice on January 14, 2019 at 11:01 pm

      We only eat fried food about once a month, beer battered fish a chips is the big treat. To save money and the environment I reuse cooking oil in my deepfat fryer no more than 3 time, I always strain between uses and store in the fridge but I worry about free radicals in reheated oil that breaks down proteins in our cells and DNA potentially causing cancer.

    3. Author Joanne A on January 15, 2019 at 9:22 am

      Hi Janice! If you're worried about the risks of reusing oil, it's probably best for you to follow another one of the methods for discarding it.

    Reply
  3. Author Susie on January 14, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Some excellent ideas and very topical at the moment. We like to have home made chips made with Rapseed oil. I always keep the plastic bottle and when the oil is no longer suitable and needs changing I pour it back into the bottle and take it to my recycling facility on my next visit.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 14, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      Good to hear, Susie!

    Reply
  4. Author Gordana on January 14, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Hi, Thank you for suggestions, I have been trying to find a good way for disposing oil after frying. I love the idea for mixing fat and bird food. One thing is strange, for years we were told that reusing oil is cancerous. I am confused.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 14, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      We love that tip too, Gordana!

    Reply
  5. Author Kathy on January 14, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    I make cake as a treat for my dog (and friends dogs) using the left over fat and oils. I keep a small dish at the back of the worktop near the stove and filter ALL used fat and oil into it. Once a week I make cake using 2oz of fat, 2oz cheap flour, 2oz of any left-over meat (minced or chopped in the food processor), add an egg and a little cheese, if we have any left, or a spoon of peanut butter, spread the mix on a baking tray. When the oven is hot at the end of a meal I pop it in for about 10mins until nicely browned then cut it into small squares and leave to cool. This mix keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (although it never lasts that long) I used it initially to train my dog to came when I blew a whistle, and it worked.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 14, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      That's a fantastic idea, Kathy! I'll have to give this a go with my own dog. I'm sure he'd love it as a treat. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    Reply
  6. Author Lilach on January 14, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    I found out that poor the oil into the garden (on dry plants that you cut in order to burn), is a great way to get rid of the oil you got left, even if you don't have the fire the oil is going back to the ground and will be reused by other plants....

    1. Author Joanne A on January 15, 2019 at 9:24 am

      Hi Lilach! That's an interesting idea. My concern with it would be the environmental impact of burning the plants. Used oil can also attract vermin such as rats, so do watch out!

    Reply
  7. Author Sandy H on January 15, 2019 at 12:06 am

    Hi Joanne, When I've roasted a chicken, for instance, I pour the fat from the tin on to saved, used tea bags. They soak it up quickly and can then easily be disposed of in the bin. Also, Lakeland has a couple of fat disposal products for sale. One is an eco-safe powder that turns fat into a solid block. It's called Quickshine Deep-Fat Fixer and costs £3.49 (ref.26122).

    1. Author Joanne A on January 15, 2019 at 9:20 am

      Great ideas! Thanks for sharing, Sandy.

    Reply
  8. Author Philip Watling on January 16, 2019 at 8:50 am

    It's great living in Milton Keynes. We have a green bin to dispose of 'green' compostable produce to go in the council's 'compost bins' and a grey bin to get rid off everything else that is compostable, which gets ground down and fed into an anaerobic digester - the FOG will produce biogas.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 16, 2019 at 9:17 am

      That sounds great, Philip!

    Reply

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