Organization wants Missourians to "can the grease"

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COLUMBIA - Cooking grease can cost homeowners money if it's improperly disposed of.

This holiday season, Missouri American Water is launching a state-wide campaign to "can the grease."

Instead of pouring cooking grease down the drain, the organization urged residents to put used fats or oils in a can or jar. After the oils cool and turn solid, people should throw them away or recycle them. The campaign serves two purposes, to teach proper disposal techniques and raise awareness about the harmful effects caused by pouring cooking grease down the sink after use.

Missouri American Water's Christie Barnhart said most people simply don't realize that cooking grease doesn't break down like many other liquids. It sticks to pipes, hardens, and can cause blockages or back-ups.

"There aren't many things more unpleasant than having water or sewer lines back up into your home," Barnhart said. "People may think that once it's gone from our view, it's gone permanently, and that's just not the case."

Cooking grease isn't the only cooking byproduct that can clog pipes. Plumber Brian Wear said he sees a variety of items that can cause problems when they're thrown down the drain after cooking.

"Potato peels are bad, egg shells are bad. People sometimes tend to think they can throw just about anything down the garbage disposal," Wear said.

This is the first year that Missouri American Water has tried the "can the grease" campaign, and Barnhart said he thinks it will continue. She said the organization is also looking to extend the campaign to include disposable wipes, another item that can cause water line blockages.