How to dispose of used cooking oil in the UK


Improper disposal of fat, oil and grease (FOG) is one of the most common causes of the drainage problems we deal with at Lanes. Blockages in pipes and sewer systems can cause major disruptions and escalating costs for homes and businesses across the nation. Most commonly, we find that FOG is the culprit.

This is not an insignificant problem – FOG can clog up sinks, drains and sewers to the point that they increase the risk of flooding in the local area, while streams and rivers can often end up polluted due to oily cooking waste entering rainwater pipes and gullies. These issues are serious, but are also preventable. Many of these current FOG-related difficulties can be avoided by learning how to safely dispose of these substances and adopting better habits when preparing food.

By making a few simple changes to your day-to-day habits, you could help to tackle a major environmental nuisance and support your local community, while also reducing your own chances of having to deal with damaging and costly drainage problems on your own premises. It’s unquestionably a win-win, and it’s easy to achieve.

Why is it so important to properly dispose of FOG?

The current prevalence of FOG-related drainage problems comes despite the fact that most people generally understand that tipping fat, oil and food waste down the sink isn’t a good idea. The fact that these habits continue to persist anyway suggests that the general public is not as aware as they should be of the serious consequences that can arise.

Here are a few eye-opening facts to demonstrate why this problem needs to be taken seriously:

Blockages account for 80% of sewer flooding incidents in the UK, resulting in more than 5,000 properties flooding each year
Around 370,000 sewer blockages are recorded nationwide every year, and up to 75% of these incidents are caused directly by FOG
The cost of reactive blockage clearance work across the UK each year is estimated at around £100 million, with further expenses accrued for cleanup after flooding incidents
FOG often clumps together with other incorrectly flushed items like sanitary products, nappies, wet wipes and bandages to form huge fatbergs, which can block entire sewers
What’s more, it’s worth bearing in mind that disposing of FOG down the sink is actually illegal, according to several pieces of legislation:

The Water Industry Act 1991 states that it is a criminal offence to discharge matter into public sewers that may interfere with the flow of wastewater
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 imposes a duty of care for commercial premises to ensure their waste is managed correctly, while also determining that the smells, effluents and accumulation of refuse due to FOG-related drain blockages can constitute a statutory nuisance
The Food Safety Act 1990 means that any problems arising from the effect of FOG on drains could result in a violation of Food Hygiene Regulations
As such, washing fat down the sink needs to be seen as more than just an individual issue – it can cause problems for an entire local community, and put food industry businesses at risk of legal issues that could be financially and reputationally harmful.


You should never dispose of fat, oil or grease down your drains. There are many solutions that can help you to dispose of FOG safely, which we will explain in more detail below. In liquid form, these substances should be poured into a container that will allow them to cool and congeal, and then disposed of in the bin. The same is true for scraps of food or other substances that can cause blockages.

No. Even though substances like oil, fat and grease flow easily in their hot, liquid form, they will quickly cool and solidify when they make contact with colder water inside the plumbing and sewage system. Ultimately, this leads to the development of blockages and fatbergs, and whether this means small blockages in your pipes or drains, or larger ones in the sewer system itself, these outcomes are always best avoided.

You should not wash any solids down your sink, even if they are only crumbs or scraps. While it may seem harmless to wash a few food scrapings down the plughole, they can quickly accumulate in drains – particularly in U-bends – and clump together with fat deposits that are already in the pipes to create stubborn blockages.

Food macerators used to be commonplace in commercial settings, but it is now illegal to use them in commercial kitchens. Food macerators grind up food scraps to allow them to be washed into the drainage system, but it is now understood that they place an extra load on sewerage systems that were not designed to handle food waste. While they are not illegal in private settings, it is best to avoid them.

Sometimes, but boiling water does not dissolve fat, oil or grease. Therefore, this is not a sustainable solution to a blockage. Pouring boiling water down the plughole to break down an obstacle will work on minor blockages, but not with serious FOG blockages that have solidified over a long period.

Moreover, if you have a PVC-based piping system, there’s a risk that the high temperatures do more harm to the pipes than to the blockage. There is also a risk of washing FOG further down the drainage system, where they can solidify into fatbergs and cause larger blockages. If you are in doubt about a blockage, the safest course of action is to call for professional help.

No. Catering companies used to be able to collect waste cooking oil and sell it as an ingredient for animal feed, but this is now illegal. More information can be found on the Food Standards Agency’s website. It is also illegal to dispose of liquid waste at landfill, and this includes FOG that has cooled and solidified.

Commercial businesses need to make themselves aware of the latest rules and recycling methods – such as in biodiesel production – to ensure they are dealing with the FOG the right way.

How to dispose of fat, oil and grease safely

Despite the seriousness of the problems improper FOG disposal can cause, getting it right is actually a fairly simple process – it’s all about learning the best approach, and making a few easy changes to kitchen habits to make sure that oil and fat never end up anywhere they don’t belong.

How to dispose of oil

Remove waste oil manually, and transfer it to a designated container to cool and congeal. You can buy devices for private kitchens that will enable you to safely collect oil to dispose of it in your bin. Larger quantities of waste oil from commercial premises – for example, the liquid left over in pans and trays after cooking – should also be collected and, ideally, sent off to an Environment Agency-licensed waste oil collector. In many cases, the oil can be recycled for use in biodiesel production, or for incineration to produce electricity.

How to dispose of grease

Make use of tools like sink strainers, grease traps and enzyme dosing systems. Special grease traps can be fitted in the drainpipes to separate FOG from the rest of the wastewater, to be removed by a licensed waste oil collector at regular intervals; additionally, special enzyme dosing systems can be purchased to break down residues that are already in the drains where necessary.

Get everyone on board with proper FOG disposal methods. Any efforts to reduce your risk of oily drain blockages are going to be undermined if you’re the only person committed to them. For households, that means getting everyone in the home on board with the new rules for washing up. For employers, it means providing specific best practice guides and training for all members of staff, explaining why positive FOG practices are so important, and the potential costs and risks to the business of continuing to get it wrong.

How to dispose of food scraps and solid waste

Dispose of food scraps in the bin. This is perhaps the easiest change to make to prevent FOG blockages. Make sure that plates, pans and utensils are scraped clean of solid food waste prior to washing, and be disciplined about brushing even the smallest scraps into the bin. Make sure to wipe down the items with kitchen roll to mop up any excess oil and grease before running them under the tap.

How to deal with blockages

Call in the experts when you need help. Responsible waste disposal can sometimes depend on external assistance to get your infrastructure right, or to deal with problems that already exist. Premises looking to fit a grease trap may want to consult an environmental health officer for advice on optimal placement, while those whose systems are already clogged by FOG may need to call in drainage professionals to clear the existing issues before making a fresh start with new habits.

How can Lanes help?

As the UK’s biggest privately owned specialist drainage contractor, Lanes can deliver an unparalleled service when it comes to removing FOG from drains and sewers. We use state-of-the-art jetting technology to dislodge FOG residues and break them down into removable chunks, which we will then transport to registered waste disposal sites. We can also take responsibility for the completion of the associated legal documentation.

Our level of expertise is such that we’re even equipped to deal with excavating huge fatbergs from the UK’s sewer system – in fact, we worked with Thames Water in 2017 to remove the infamous Whitechapel fatberg, a gigantic 130-tonne mass measuring 250 metres in length, which took a total of nine weeks to excavate. It was the biggest fatberg ever discovered, and it vividly demonstrates that there really is no job too big for us to handle!

Additionally, we can offer advice on selecting the right grease traps for your property, and competitively priced contracts for the regular maintenance and cleaning of grease traps, so if you have any inquiries at all about our FOG disposal services, then give us a call on 0800 526 488, or use our online enquiry form.

Popular searches

Urgent help required?

Call our 24 hour helpline

0800 526 488