By: Leigh Patterson
The holiday season is here. It’s a time when we enjoy being with our families, and it is also a time for cooking, cooking, and more cooking! I personally look forward to Thanksgiving each year and the yummy food that goes along with it.
With holiday cooking being just around the corner, this is a great time to remind everyone that we have a kitchen fats, oils, and grease (FOG) recycling program here in Limestone County. We all have FOG left over after cooking certain foods, such as roasting or frying a turkey. These originate from vegetable or animal sources, such as dairy products, vegetable oil, olive oil, or fats from cooking meats. How we handle these products can be helpful or harmful.
Fats, oils, and grease poured into the wastewater system (sewers) will cool and become a sticky layer on sewer pipes. The sticky mess then attracts and holds other food particles and debris that flows through the drains causing blockages or clogs. These clogs can then cause overflows. Removing these blockages is very costly, both financially and to the health of the environment.
The Athens Wastewater Department spends tens of thousands of dollars removing these clogs, the cost of which is passed on to the consumer. We all know who that is!
In 2012, the Wastewater Department, in cooperation with Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful, developed the FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) Collection and Recycling Program to help reduce the occurrence of clogs. This program provides an easy way to recycle household FOG by providing containers free to the public to take home for FOG collection. KALB continues to work with the Wastewater Department with a focus on educating residents about the dangers of improper disposal of fats, oils, and grease because there is still so much that is not being captured.
It is easy to think that “just a little bit” of grease down the drain won’t hurt. With a hot water chaser, it will be okay. That is false thinking. Eventually, that small amount of oil or grease will cool and attach itself to the pipe. More and more fats will stick together as they go down the drain and will grab other items that slip down as well, forming a larger and larger clog. This could become a costly plumbing repair bill for homeowners. If you don’t create enough FOG to collect for recycling, just let the fats cool, then wipe the pan and discard them into your trash.
How To Participate
FOG Collection and Recycling containers are available free of charge to Athens and Limestone County residents. Just pick up an empty container from the white FOG cages located at the following locations:
- Athens-Limestone Recycling Center – 15896 Lucas Ferry Rd.
- KALB Office – 125 East Street
- Utility Building – 1806 Wilkinson St.
- Various apartment complexes in Athens (check with apartment management)
These cages are located outside of the buildings and are available 24 hours a day. Once the container is full, return it to the bottom shelf of any of the collection cages. The contents will be processed and used in a variety of products. Take another empty container home and begin the process all over again.
Since the program started in 2012, thousands of gallons of fats, oils, and grease have been recycled. If you produce fats, oils, or grease in your kitchen, then this program is designed for you. Please take the time to keep these harmful materials out of the wastewater system and allow them to be useful again.
Pick up your FOG container now so you have it ready for your holiday cooking, then continue to keep grease out of the sewer lines by using the program throughout the year.
Call KALB or the Athens Wastewater Department if you have questions about this program.
By: Leigh Patterson
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful