Residents urged not to throw used cooking oil down sink

Residential initiative urges safe disposal to stop clogs and to help environment.

Nanny Savitri Adineni disposes of cooking oil for recycling in a designated bin at Wasl Oasis in Muhaisnah, Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National
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DUBAI // A pilot programme which encourages people to safely dispose of waste cooking oil instead of throwing it down the drain and clogging up pipes has been launched in an apartment block.

More than 1,000 people living in Wasl Oasis in Muhaisnah were given funnels to pour their oil in to containers at home. They were then left in yellow bins for collection.

“A collection initiative builds awareness, it’s an opportunity to be eco-friendly,” said Seema Subramanian, a mother of two children.

“More education is required about the effect of throwing oil down the drain. Many people got a piece of paper with the funnel but did not know why this was being done. I read up so I knew the importance. We need to do this for the future, for our community and children.”

The programme was launched by Wasl Properties a few months ago and the developer plans to roll it out across other developments.

“Pouring used cooking oil down the drain causes blockages in pipes,” said Zainab Mohammed, chief executive of property management and marketing, Wasl Properties.

“Continuous disposal of used oil in this manner means authorities having to regularly clean the pipes, which is expensive and time-consuming. It can also affect the water supply.”

One litre of oil contaminates up to 1,000 litres of water, according to environmental estimates. The oil hardens into thick layers, choking drain pipes and sewers. This restricts water flow, causes foul backup and requires strong chemicals to unclog pipes.

“Grease strapped pipes require constant cleaning,” said Zack Abdi, managing director of consultancy Provectus Middle East that partnered with Wasl to collect the oil once the yellow bins were full.

“When solidified, it becomes like rock and obstructs the drainage system. Dedicated bins are being used so it does not contaminate municipal waste and landfills. This will prevent water contamination and save money spent on calling maintenance companies to clear pipes.”

On completing the pilot project, there are plans to convert the oil to biodiesel to power buses, generators or heating units.

“The idea is to engage people. There is no point just telling people we have to reduce pollution, people want to know how,” said Mr Abdi.

“The funnel becomes a tool. It can teach people on a grass-roots level and cascade down to their children. Taking care of waste locally and turning it into a resource can provide health and environment benefits for the community.”

Residents said they had started separately disposing of leftover oil from frying food but asked for more information. “We were given the funnel by the security guard but didn’t know what exactly it was for,” said Alex Zinto.

“It’s a good idea but we haven’t started using this yet.”

Resident Mohammad Kutty said his family had started separating oil from regular waste.

“This programme is necessary because otherwise this polluting oil is just thrown away.

“We must start somewhere for the environment.”