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How to safely discard leftover cooking grease in NYC

When you cook in NYC, you need to discard leftover grease safely to prevent plumbing problems for you and your neighbors.

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2019
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More than 80 houses in South Jamaica, Queens were flooded by sewage on Saturday because of a blocked pipe—the pipe was possibly clogged with cooking grease, most likely poured down the drain during Thanksgiving meal clean up.

As a result, families are displaced and left to deal with a really foul mess. The incident underscores how critical it is to properly discard leftover cooking grease in NYC buildings, where old pipes can trap clogs easily, and even lead to something disturbingly called a "fatberg." 

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, there are two ways you should dispose of cooking grease: 1) Place it in a container, such as for take-out food, label the container “cooking oil—not for recycling” and throw it out with your regular garbage, or 2) Wait for the oil to cool down, pour it in a plastic bag, freeze it, and throw it out with your garbage.

Use paper towels to soak up any residual oil from dishes before washing them. 

In addition, avoid letting other food scraps, holiday or otherwise, like potato peels, rice, or pumpkin guts, go down the drain. Instead, throw them in the garbage or better yet, collect your food scraps for compost. 

For more on how to how to keep your apartment's pipes flowing, read Brick Underground’s basic guide to NYC plumbing.