Research by MORE TH>N Home Insurance, found over half of households admit to pouring fats down the sink, including meat fats, olive oil and cooking oil – posing a huge risk of flooding not just to individual homes but to entire residential areas and drainage systems.
On average these homes pour almost 20ml of cooking fats (around two tablespoons of oil) down the sink 1.14 times per week.
Our research also found 6% of households pour oil down the sink every day, sometimes up to three times a day and 5% of those people are pouring over 50ml of fat or oil away each time.
This practice means 5% of households have damaged their sink or had to replace their sinks or piping due to damage caused by fats and oils.
Pouring fat down the sink might seem to some an innocent method of disposal but it can easily turn into a wider problem – and not just through clogging up your own piping.
Fatbergs are clusters of fat that become combine with anything from wet wipes to nappies, clogging sewers and wreaking havoc for households.
They can often leave homeowners unable to flush their toilets and can cause flooding.
Damage caused by cooking fat being poured down drains results in an average repair bill of £80.
Graham Nicholls at MORE TH>N Home Insurance said: "When you’ve cooked using fats or oils, it can be tempting to rinse them away down the sink, but it’s not worth it in the long run.
"Oils can cause damage to sinks, blockages and even floods, so for the sake of waiting a few minutes for your oils to cool before throwing them in the bin. It’s worth it to save shelling out for plumbers or new parts for your sink.
"Fatbergs in the sewers can cause flooding in homes, meaning additional bills for homeowners. Fatbergs are avoidable and the best place to start is throwing away fats properly - cooling them or sealing them in bottles to be disposed of."
To visualise the issue we commissioned the micro-sculptor, Hedley Wiggan to carve miniature sculptures of some of the nation’s most iconic landmarks entirely from cooking fats.
Hedley’s sculptures hewn from butter and lard include Big Ben, The Brighton Pavilion, Buckingham Palace, Blackpool Tower, Stonehenge and the Angel of the North – to represent landmarks from the worst offending regions.
Hedley said: “The fact I can make a piece of art from a similar amount of fat to what we’re throwing down the sink shows how careless we’re being when it comes to our pipes and drains.”
1. North East - 62%
2. South East - 60%
3. South West - 58%
4. London - 56%
5. North West - 55%
- Before washing pots and pans, wipe excess grease off with a paper towel to avoid pouring oil down the sink.
- Reuse cooking fats in the kitchen by pouring fat through a filter then putting it in the fridge overnight. The next day, the oil will have a jelly-like substance on top. Remove and dispose of the jelly and then you can use the hardened oil again in the pan.
- You can also reuse oil in cooking. If you’ve cooked meat, rather than refilling the pan with oil reuse it to cook your vegetables.
- If you’ve used fat, suet or lard in cooking, allow it to cool then combine it with nuts and seeds to make a ball, put the ball in your bird feeder or garden for local wildlife to enjoy.
- Many local councils will collect cooking oils so that they can be re-used as fuel. Contact your local council for more information.