Back to All

The Surprising Negative Impacts of Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats

June 10, 2015

Why It’s Vital to Properly Dispose of Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats

Walk into the kitchen of any restaurant and you’ll find plenty of vegetable oils on the premises. In fact, most of us are aware they go a long way in ensuring the foods we enjoy are appeasing to our taste buds. However, if not properly disposed of, they can take a destructive toll on the environment and even a municipal budget.

How big of a toll?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates vegetable oils and animal fats under 40 CFR 112, which, maybe surprisingly, is the same regulation petroleum oils are covered under. In fact, according to the EPA, they could have similar environmental impacts, which can:

• Cause devastating physical effects, such as coating animals and plants with oil and suffocating them by oxygen depletion

• Be toxic and form toxic products

• Destroy future and existing food supplies, breeding animals, and habitats

• Produce rancid odors

• Foul shorelines, clog water treatment plants, and catch fire when ignition sources are present

• Form products that linger in the environment for years

While petroleum spills capture all the attention, it’s clear the potential harm vegetable oils and animal fats can have is nasty. Therefore, it’s equally important that they are discarded through the correct channels.

In addition to the environmental impact, there can also be consequences from a financial standpoint.

The Monetary Impact

Failing to get rid of them in proper fashion can have a major financial impact on businesses and local government. If poured down drains, they can solidify over time and clog sewer systems. For example, the Canadian city of Vancouver estimates that removing the buildup from cooking oils, fats, and grease costs the metro area and its municipalities nearly $2 million per year.

In the United States, the EPA has estimated that 47 percent of all reported sewer blockages occur due to fats, oils, and grease. Yes, you read that correctly. Nearly half of all reported blockages occur because of vegetable oils and fats from restaurants, households, and industrial sources. It’s no surprise, then, cities are paying so much money to take care of these issues.

Clogged sewer systems don’t bode well for anyone. If a restaurant dumps oil down the drain and it leads to a blockage, things could get messy. Sewage may get backed up into kitchen sinks, creating a completely different host of issues, which could potentially force the business to shut its doors for a period of time. That’s not a very profitable notion.

Improper disposal techniques could also lead to fines and other unforeseen costs.

Furthermore, showing little regard for the environment isn’t a good look. While major franchises, such as Burger King, can sustain a barrage of negative attention after events like the one in this story, smaller organizations may not be able to.

There doesn’t seem to be a firm, conscientious awareness yet in regards to vegetable oils and fats. Or, if there is, some don’t adhere to the regulations as strictly. Hopefully, in the near future, that changes and the realization that they can be every bit as harmful as petroleum oils becomes widely understood.

Practicing proper methods of disposal when dealing with these materials will help not only the environment, but the bottom line as well.

Want to know more about how to dispose of vegetable oils and animals fats or schedule a pickup? Call us at 800-936-2311 to speak with an expert.

Photo Credit: StayRAW via Compfight

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.