How to dispose of used cooking oil safely

Want to know what to do with used cooking oil? Keep it out the sink and reuse it where possible with these tips!

Updated

cooking oil bottles on a table

Key steps

  • Never put cooking oil down the sink.
  • Allow fats to solidify before disposing of them.
  • Ask your local recycling plant if they process used cooking oils.
  • Add used vegetable fats to your compost or use them to make bird food.
  • Reuse deep-frying oil and bacon fat where possible.

Did you know that if cooking oil disposal is done in the right way then it can not only prevent clogged pipes but even be successfully recycled? Learning how to dispose of used cooking oil safely and properly is good for your kitchen and the environment so let’s take a look!

Cooking oil and fat shouldn’t be poured down sinks as it can cause blockages, but some local areas can process it through your food recycling. Check in your area to find out.

What to do with used cooking oil

Ever asked: can cooking oil be disposed of down the sink? If you have, the answer is a very firm no. You should never put used cooking oil down the drain as grease and oil will often solidify within the pipes causing blockages. In some cases, this can lead to sewage flooding and no one wants that.

How to dispose of cooking oil

When it comes to used cooking oil disposal, one of the biggest challenges is finding a suitable container to hold the oil in before getting rid of it. The main options include:

  • Takeaway containers: Pour fats inside and allow them to solidify.
  • Fridge: Chill grease in a bowl or disposable container in the fridge to solidify quickly.
  • Plastic bottles: Pour used oil inside and seal with a lid as these fats won’t solidify.

The basic process for disposing of fats, grease, and oil is as follows:

1. Transfer the fat to a suitable container (see above). Leave to set where necessary.

2. Add to your usual waste collection service. Try to do this as close to collection day as possible – it’s not uncommon for oil and grease to leak through bin bags.

3. Limit your use of oils where possible to cut back on your waste – or try recycling it if you can.

How to recycle old cooking oil and fats

Putting your used oil in your usual waste will stop it from clogging up pipes but it won’t tackle the amount of rubbish you generate. Try these recycling options for a greener choice:

  • Check if your recycling centre accepts cooking fats and oils. Find out more at the Department of the Environment and Energy website.
  • Add vegetable oil to your compost. Earthworms will love it just don’t add too much this can reduce water and airflow in the compost.
  • Use vegetable fats to create bird feed. This only works for fats that will solidify but you can make a yummy treat for birds by mixing them with honey and seeds.

How to reuse cooking oil and grease

If recycling your cooking fat isn’t an option, then you can still reduce its impact on the environment by using it more than once. Reuse oils as indicated below:

  • Deep-frying oil: 3-4 times. Filter and store in a sealed container. Reuse for future deep-fried foods.
  • Bacon fat: 1-2 times. Filter and store in the fridge or freeze in an ice cube tray. Reuse when frying onions or in homemade stews where you won’t mind a subtle bacon flavour. Use refrigerated bacon fat within 2 weeks and frozen fat in 1 year.
  • Cooking oil: 1 time. Filter thoroughly and store in a sealed container. Reuse when baking cakes or breads if the oil wasn’t previously used for something with a strong flavour (such as shrimp or fish).

With our top tips for how to dispose of oil you can be sure to do it both carefully and sustainably. Want more tips? Check out our other food waste solutions!

Originally published