Fats, oils and grease (FOG) are by-products of food preparation and cooking and can be dangerous to your pipes and the environment and can cause damage to your property.

When you allow FOG to drain from your property down into the sewer system, the FOG, along with debris, can slowly build up and clog your plumbing and sewers over time. Once the grease and the water cool it begins to solidify and deposits along the sides of the pipes; eventually blocking the pipe. When the sewer line is blocked there is no place for the wastewater to go except back into your home or business. In addition, grease accumulated in the sewer can attract vermin and rodents.

You can prevent sewer backups, damage to your property and impacts to City infrastructure through proper FOG disposal practices at your home and business.

The City spends close to $500,000 annually removing and disposing of debris including FOG that are sent down the drain to our Wastewater Treatment Plant.

FOG sources

Most fat, oil and grease is a result of cooking. Here are some examples of F.O.G.:

  • Baking goods
  • Butter or margarine
  • Cooking Oils
  • Dairy products
  • Food scraps
  • Gravy
  • Lard
  • Meat fats
  • Milk and cream
  • Marinades
  • Salad dressings
  • Sandwich spreads
  • Sauces
  • Shortening
  • Soup

FOG management for businesses

There are several steps commercial kitchens can take to prevent FOG from entering their pipes, preventing sewer backups and resulting in temporary business closures.

Grease interceptors

Commercial kitchens can help prevent clogs and infrastructure damage caused by FOG through the use of a grease interceptor. A grease trap, or grease interceptor, is a plumbing device designed to “trap” and prevent FOG from entering the sewer. Grease interceptors at restaurants are required under City By-Law 13 of 2021, and under Ontario Building Code Reg. 350/06.

Facilities should have grease traps cleaned at least once per month or set a proper maintenance schedule for cleaning, so that discharges meet Sewer Use By-Law limit criteria. Keeping a logbook and receipts of all cleanouts, will help you maintain a cleaning schedule. Proof of cleaning frequency may also be required for inspections.

You can maintain grease traps between regular cleanings. When cleaning the grease interceptor, scoop out the solidified grease portion on the top and place in the garbage for disposal. Used cooking oil can be recycled. Storage bins can be rented from cooking oil recyclers.

Other ways to help

Commercial kitchens can further limit damage caused by FOG, by:

  • Wiping grease from pots and pans
  • Using a strainer in sinks to stop food from entering drain
  • Recycling used oil
  • Training employees
  • Scraping food scraps and grease into garbage
  • Checking your grease trap/grease interceptor often
  • Setting up a maintenance schedule for your grease trap/grease interceptor
  • Avoiding pouring grease down the drains or toilets
  • Avoiding using degreasers, emulsifiers or hot water to dissolve grease
  • Avoiding pouring grease straight into garbage dumpster

FOG management at home

Did you know that what you put down your drain could potentially lead to your basement flooding? What you put down your drain may cause blockages in your plumbing. This includes food scraps, fat or grease.

You can limit sewer backups and other damage caused by FOG at home, by:

  • Wiping grease from pots and pans
  • Using a strainer in sinks to stop food from entering drain
  • Placing grease from cooking into a jar or can and once solidified dispose of in the garbage
  • Not draining drippings or gravy down the drain or toilet
  • Not pouring FOG sources down sinks, drains or toilets
  • Avoiding running hot water over dishes, pans, fryers or griddles to wash oil and grease down the drain(this will solidify as it cools in the sewer lateral)

When it comes to grease, cool it, scrape it and dispose of it in the garbage. Visit Customer Service, on the first floor of City Hall, for a complimentary grease collection cup.

Sewer Use By-Law

The City of Sarnia’s Sewer Use By-law Number 13 of 2021 prohibits the discharge of sewage containing more than 150 mg/L of fats, oils and grease of animal or vegetable origin.

Learn More about the F.O.G. Management Program

Pollution Prevention is the most cost effective and sustainable method to deal with plugged sewers and raw sewage overflows in your neighbourhood. Your sink is not a garbage disposal. Your cooperation adds up to a significant and measurable impact. Talk to your neighbours and other business owners to encourage them to follow these preventative practices.

For further information on the F.O.G. Management Program please email fogprogram@sarnia.ca.