Hillsborough County has numerous convenient sites where used cooking oil can be dropped off to be recycled. Visit www.hcflgov.net/core for locations.

It’s the end of the year, and the holiday season is upon us. Families will come together to celebrate and spend time together. They’ll exchange gifts and share in delicious meals, including fried turkeys. 

But once the festivities are done, what do you do with the used cooking oil, fat or grease?

Don’t pour the cooking oil, fat or grease down the drain, even if you add hot water or soap. Pouring these down the drain can cause a serious problem for home plumbing and Hillsborough County’s wastewater collection system. Cooking oil, fat or grease that is poured down the drain gels and solidifies inside pipes, sewage lines and sewage lift stations, constricting water flow. It can back up home plumbing and cause equipment to malfunction, leading to sewage spills, overflows onto streets and foul odors in homes and neighborhoods.

The used oil can be collected and brought to a number of county collection stations to be recycled into renewable resources and environmentally friendly alternatives used in various industries. There are 24 locations throughout the County, including libraries, several county parks and recreation centers, solid waste transfer stations and a public utility service center. Used cooking oil, fat and grease are collected all year long at these locations. The program is not solely for the holidays.

There are steps to take to properly collect the cooking oil to be recycled. Carefully pour cooled cooking oil into a large, sturdy plastic or glass food-grade container with a lid. Do not use containers that have held petroleum products, such as motor oil. If the container is not full, close the container and store in a cool, safe location. Don’t mix the oil with any other liquids or products. Once the container is full, bring it to a Hillsborough County Cooking Oil Recycling Effort (CORE) station or to a household hazardous waste collection center.

Along with not pouring cooking oil, fat or grease down the drain, don’t flush cooking oil or grease down the toilet, don’t put greasy foods down the garbage disposal and don’t place used cooking oil in the recycling cart.

Additional steps that residents can take to avoid clogging the pipes: 

• Scrape leftover food into the trash before washing pots, pans and dishes.

• Use a fine-mesh strainer in the sink to prevent debris from going down the drain. 

• Clean out leftover foods from the sink and put it in the trash. 

To learn more, visit www.hcflgov.net/core, email gotgrease@hcflgov.net or call 813-272-5977, ext. 43515.

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