Johnson City’s “Can the Grease” campaign kicked off Tuesday to raise public awareness about disposing of fats, oils and grease in a way that makes things easier on your household plumbing and improves flow through the city’s sewer collection system.
Michael Tolbert, the city’s Water and Sewer Services Department pre-treatment coordinator, said a grease control program has been in place since 1991, but the focus has been mainly on restaurants and other businesses disposing of grease in larger amounts.
In an effort to get more residents to help themselves and the city, green lids bearing the words, “Pour it, Cap it, Cool it, Trash it,” are available at no cost inside the Municipal and Safety Building where customers pay their bills. The intent is to get residents to pour grease, oils and other cooking materials into cans which can be capped by the reusable lid. Once congealed, the can be covered with wrapping and put in the garbage for collection.
“One common misconception is that you can pour fats, oils and grease down the drain and run hot water to get rid of it,” Tolbert said. “The fallacy here is that the hot water only temporarily dissolves the grease. As the greasy water cools, it begins to solidify and sticks to everything it touches, including your private plumbing. Over time, the inside of your pipes become coated and clogged with grease much like arteries become clogged with plaque. If you don’t pour the fats, oils and grease into the sink in the first place, it cannot cause this problem.”
Tolbert said another culprit that causes grease-related plumbing problems is the improper use of garbage disposals. This includes the practice of sending unused food down the drain and through your garbage disposal.
“These solids, along with the fats, oils and grease contained within the food can ‘add fuel to the fire’ when it comes to blocked pipes,” he said. “You should use a strainer over your drain to catch as many food particles as possible and dispose of them in the trash. The best practice is to help alleviate plumbing problems is to only grind up food particles that make it past your best efforts to keep them out of the drain.”
Blocked pipes can cause problems at residences, delays in sewage reaching the city’s wastewater plants, increase labor costs to clean city-owned pipes and facilities, and sewer line blockage which results in spills onto streets, residences and businesses.
Tolbert suggests residents empty soup or vegetable cans and pour used grease into them allowing the contents to cool. The cans can be stored in your refrigerator. Once the can is full, simply discard it in the trash. The campaign will be ongoing from this point.
There also is a collection site for grease on New Street for those who live outside the city limits and wish to recycle used cooking oils and grease. For more information on the city’s grease recycling efforts, call Eva Hunter, Johnson City recycling marketing coordinator, 979-6318.
To obtain a free lid, visit the Municipal and Safety Building. You also can email firstname.lastname@example.org about any sewer system operations and maintenance questions. For more information on the “Can the Grease,” program, call Tolbert at 975-2602.