Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) Program

Clean water depends on the participation and support of the entire community, from the government, businesses, and schools to individual citizens. Water is essential to everyone, and we all play a role in wastewater treatment. Public support and participation is critical to keeping wastewater treatment facilities operating and maintenance costs down.

FOGWhen cooking by-products like fats, oils, grease (FOG), are dumped down household drains, they cool and stick together causing expensive plumbing problems. FOG is found in meats, sauces, gravies, cooking oils, mayonnaise, ice cream, butter and many other compostable food waste.

The sanitary sewer system is designed to carry wastewater away from your home to the Wastewater Treatment Facilities where it is safely and effectively cleaned. As fats, oils and grease cool, they thicken and remain sticky, collecting all other items, such as wipes, that pass through your pipes creating one massive blockage and preventing the water from reaching the treatment facilities.

The clean-up of sewer backups and the additional maintenance required to reverse the damage caused by the improper disposal of these items leads to higher utility bills, costly home plumber visits and expensive pipe replacement. Sewer overflows and backups can also cause health hazards. Sewage is full of bacteria and contaminants that pose a serious threat to people and their pets.

What you can do at home to prevent overflows:

• Collect and properly dispose of cooking oils and grease by pouring it into a heat-proof container and then placing it in the trash.

• Collect FOG in a heat-proof container and take it to the Regional Landfill, 489 Eskimo Hill Road, Stafford, VA 22554, or the Belman Road Recycling Center, 1200 Belman Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22401. You can leave the containers there and staff will properly dispose of the oil. Fitted sink strainers can be used to catch larger pieces of solid waste and then thrown in a trash can.

• Reuse meat fats to make gravy or use to roast vegetables. Some types of vegetable oil used in deep frying can be saved and used again.

• Many products can be recycled. Used cooking fats can be converted into biodiesel to fuel vehicles or electric generators.

• Wipe plates and pans with a paper towel to remove any residual food and grease before washing or placing in a dishwasher. Don’t use a towel or a rag to wipe plates or clean grease. When you wash them, the grease ends up in the sewer.

Here are six ways to responsibly dispose of used cooking oil:         

  • Recycle used cooking oil. R-Board provides year around collection of used cooking oil for residents at both of their convenience centers. Collect cooking oil in a heat-proof container and take it to the Regional Landfill, 489 Eskimo Hill Road, Stafford, VA 22554, or the Belman Road Recycling Center, 1200 Belman Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22401. You can leave the containers there and staff will properly dispose of the oil.

  • Reuse cooking oil with the same food types. If you use the oil for foods like vegetables or potatoes, the oil can be used again several times. Remember to cool and store oil properly if reusing. 

  • Make homemade suet for the birds. Mix any cooled cooking oil with a bird seed and place it outside for the birds – they will appreciate the extra calories over the winter months! 

  • Small amounts of used vegetable oil can be added to your compost piles, this will help feed the earthworms that help with the composting process. 

  • Mix it with an absorbent material like cat litter or flour until the consistency is thick enough to easily be thrown away. Now you do not have to worry about oil leaking through a garbage bag. 

  • Can it, cool it and then toss it. Keep cans or milk cartons to pour your grease into then stick it in the freezer or refrigerator to cool and harden then toss it in the trash.

IMPACT REPORT: Residential Sewer Customers

Stafford County Sewer Customers: 34,918
Annual Sewer Maintenance and Pumpout Cost: $1,634,900
What is FOG?
FOG stands for Fats, Oil and Grease. It is a byproduct of cooking and includes oils, animal fats and vegetable fats.
What are the most common sources of FOG?
The most common sources of FOG are meats, lard, shortening, sauces, gravy, oil and dairy products.
Can I use garbage disposal or detergents and hot water to wash FOG down the drain?
No. A garbage disposal will only shred the food to smaller particles. The particles will accumulate down the sewer lines to cause back ups. Detergents and hot water may temporarily keep the FOG in liquid state and push it further down the pipe. Over time, FOG will cool and solidify in the sewer system blocking the pipes and causing backups.
But if I don't have an overflow, does FOG really affect me?
Yes! If you are connected to Stafford's sewer system, then you have a vested interest in the reliability and life span of the system and treatment plant. Even if you never experience a FOG-related overflow, the rates you pay on your monthly Utility bill fund the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the system. If there is a spill that gets into a waterway, the County could be fined and have to pay other clean up costs as well. There is also the potential for ecological damage to the County’s waterways that contribute to the quality of life for all residents.
What should I do with my leftover oil or grease?
Pour FOG in a can. Cover and store in freezer until it hardens and dispose of as solid waste. When there is FOG residue in any pan, wipe with a paper towel before washing. Throw the paper in the trash. Place a food strainer in your kitchen sink to catch food particles and dispose of in the trash. Spread awareness amongst your friends and neighbors.
I am not on Stafford County water or sewer. Do I need to be concerned about FOG?
Yes. FOG is a concern to you, because it may cause clogging of the pipes that go to your septic tank or other on-site treatment system. Avoiding disposal of FOG down your drain is a good practice regardless of the system you are on.