Waste Clear

How to Properly Dispose of Cooking Oil in Australia

Used cooking oil is one of the most common household and commercial waste products in Australia.

One of the main problems with correct recycling is the sheer volume of misinformation around correct recycling protocols and the negative impact that incorrect disposal can have on your drains and (more importantly) on the environment.

Disposing of cooking oil at home or in a commercial setting means understanding how to collect used cooking oil, how to store it, and how you can safely and legally dispose of it. So, before you pour oil down your drain, let’s understand how you can properly dispose of used cooking oil.

Table of Contents

  • How to dispose of cooking oil in Australia
  • The importance of recycling used cooking oil
  • What happens when cooking oil is not disposed of properly?
  • Why cooking oil can’t go down your drain
  • Can you be fined for incorrect disposal of cooking oil in Australia?
  • Final thoughts on cooking oil waste disposal

How to Dispose of Cooking Oil in Australia

Before you fire up your cooktop or stove, you need to have a plan in place for proper disposal of cooking oil. For some of us, this means storing and reusing the oil at a later date for cooking – particularly in commercial premises. For others, this means having a proper collection and disposal plan in place before you start cooking, frying, or simmering in the kitchen. When it comes to correctly disposing of cooking oil, here are your options:

Store and reuse cooking oil

Saving and reusing cooking oil is a great way to cut down on your household or restaurant expenses and minimise your waste. Of course, whether or not you can reuse cooking oil comes down to how many times it has been used and the state of the oil – we’ll leave this part up to your discretion. In any case, it’s important to do your research and understand when you can and cannot reuse cooking oil to ensure safe food preparation practices. 

If you plan on storing and reusing cooking oil, wait for it to cool down before straining it through a filter (paper or metal) to remove any food particles that may be present. From there, store the oil in a glass container or jar and place in your refrigerator to be used at a later date.

How to dispose of cooking oil in australia

Store and recycle your cooking oil

Store and recycle your cooking oil after use in a plastic or metal airtight container. Once you’ve placed your used cooking oil in a container or jar, you can search online for nearby oil recycling points. Dedicated oil recycling points are a free and effective way to recycle used cooking oil and help to ensure that oil is recycled into detergent, cosmetics, and bio-fuel products. Recycling your used cooking oil is a great way to ensure it does not end up in landfill and we reduce the environmental impact by keeping the oil in the circular recycling economy.

Store, seal, and dispose cooking oil

Once you have finished with your cooking oil, wait for it to cool down before pouring it into a sealed, airtight metal or plastic container to ensure no leaks. When the cool oil has been secured and the container is sealed, safely move the container to your garbage. Small amounts of vegetable oil products can be mixed with your compost and is considered an organic mix with birdseed. Mixing your used cooking oil with absorbent materials like sand, sawdust, or cat litter is also an effective way to soak up your liquid waste before disposing.

Work with a waste disposal company

For commercial kitchens, cafes, and restaurants, working with a waste disposal company for oil disposal is the safest and most effective way to ensure compliance and responsible waste disposal. When you’re working with large quantities of cooking oil, maintaining proper disposal protocols is a significant challenge. Booking a regular, scheduled pickup and disposal with a waste collection company is the easiest way to avoid any missteps and potential PR nightmares.

The Importance of Recycling Used Cooking Oil

When it comes to reusing our natural resources, recycling used cooking oils is a simple starting point for all Australians. Once cooking oil is recycled, it can be turned into biodiesel fuels that can effectively reduce the pollution that is typically associated with mining and processing. Biodiesel fuels help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed into the circular economy to ensure that we are reducing the environmental impact of sourcing, mining, and transporting new fuel products.

In addition to biofuel diesel products, cooking oil can also be treated and recycled for conversion into a range of other products including detergent, soap, paint, lubricants, and even animal feed products.

Recycling cooking oil is a simple way to effectively reduce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane and ensure that we are making the most of our natural resources.

What happens when cooking oil is not disposed of properly?

Improper disposal of cooking oil can have detrimental effects on your drains and (more importantly) on our environment. Cooking oil that is poured down the sink ends up in our water which can block the flow of water, create a surface coating, and have a devastating impact on local marine, aquatic, and wildlife. Not only can improper disposal of used cooking oil harm our wildlife, but it can also have an impact on the water quality at our beaches, lakes, harbour ways.

Storing, disposing, and recycling used cooking oil is a simple step that we can all take to reduce our environmental impact.

Why Cooking Oil Can’t Go Down Your Drain

There are two main reasons why cooking oil can’t go down the drain; firstly the environmental considerations that we have covered off above. Secondly, used cooking will accumulate and clog your drains which can lead to costly plumbing problems.

Our kitchen drains and pipes are not made to handle cooking oil. Improper oil disposal causes fat to accumulate in your pipes and cause blockages that prevent your drainage. Over time, liquid oil can harden the pipes and create what is known as ‘fatbergs’ that prevent water and cleaning products from moving through your pipes.

Can you be Fined for Incorrect Disposal of Cooking Oil in Australia?

Yes, businesses that do not properly dispose of cooking oil can be fined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is responsible for undertaking periodical audits of commercial premises to ensure that they are correctly disposing of oil and any other hazardous waste products. Fines issued by the EPA for illegal dumping can range from $15,000 on the spot fines, to a maximum waste dumping penalty of $1,000,000 for corporations. For businesses that deal with large quantities of cooking oil, working with a waste management company is the safest and most effective way to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

Final Thoughts on Cooking Oil Waste Disposal

Individuals and businesses are both responsible for not only understanding the importance of proper waste disposal, but also ensuring that they have a cooking oil waste disposal plan in place. Whether you opt for the preferred choice or recycling, or simply using the correct oil waste disposal methods covered in this article, we can all play our part in ensuring that cooking oil waste does not damage our environment and end up in our waterways.

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