Disposing of Grease as a Business

When businesses discharge animal fats and vegetabe oils into the Sewer System, it can cause sewer backups and interfere with the City’s sewage treatment operations. To ensure the proper disposal of grease, and to prevent sewer backups, the City requires commercial grease-generating establishments to correctly install, operate and maintain properly sized and designed grease interceptors.

View Rules of the City of New York, Title 15, Chapter §19-11 for more information about the rules for grease interceptors in food service establishments. Please note that food waste disposers are not allowed in commercial establishments in New York City.

For information about how to safely dispose of grease at home, visit Disposing of Grease at Home. To learn about how to properly dispose of other household waste, visit Safe Disposal of Harmful Products.

Grease Disposal for Businesses: Brochures and Signs

Download the Preventing Grease Discharges into Sewers: Guidelines for New York City Businesses brochure to learn about the problem of grease in the sewers and how it impacts businesses. The brochure is also available for download in Español, 中文, 한국어, русский.

Learn more about the best practices and requirements for grease intereceptors in food service establishments:

These signs can make grease reduction efforts more visible to employees:

How Grease Interceptors Work

Every business that disposes of grease, fats or oil (including but not limited to restaurants, cafeterias, clubs, butcher shops, slaughterhouses, fish markets, supermarket food processing areas and delicatessens), should have a grease interceptor to prevent these materials from entering and clogging sewer lines.

Grease Interceptors
Grease Interceptors

This equipment works by separating the grease and oils from wastewater. Greasy wastewater entering the interceptor passes through a vented flow control fitting that regulates the flow of the wastewater. The wastewater then passes over a series of separator baffles, or regulating devices within the interceptor, that separates grease, fat and oil. The grease then floats to the top of the interceptor and accumulates until manually removed. The wastewater continues to flow through the interceptor, into a discharge pipe, and then to the City’s Sewer System.

Installing and Maintaining Your Grease Interceptor

If a grease interceptor is not properly installed or maintained it will not do its job! For your own assurance, DEP requires that only licensed plumbers install grease interceptors. These interceptors must be the proper size to work correctly. A licensed plumber can determine the correct size. Plumbers and business owners may also write to us for technical assistance:

New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Wastewater Treatment
Compliance Engineering Section
96-05 Horace Harding Expressway, 1st Floor
Corona, New York 11368

Every interceptor should be cleaned as frequently as necessary to avoid exceeding its rated capacity. To clean, remove the cover of the interceptor and scoop out any grease and/or oil that has collected on top. Grease and oil can be recycled, and should be collected by a fat renderer or other grease recycling company. Please visit the NYC Business Integrity Commission website for a list of Trade Waste Approved Companies.

Enforcing Regulations

DEP enforces the City’s sewer use regulations and may fine businesses that are not in compliance. We routinely send inspectors to businesses to check interceptors and make sure they are correctly sized, properly installed, maintained, and operating effectively. If a business has an interceptor that is too small, inspectors will order the owner or operator to install the proper unit, based on New York City’s Building Code and Sewer Use Regulations. The maximum penalty for not complying with the rules is currently $10,000 per day, per violation. To avoid the expense of such fines, install the correctly sized unit and maintain it properly.

To report sewer backups, call 311, file a report online or write to:

New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Wastewater Treatment
Compliance Engineering Section
96-05 Horace Harding Expressway, 1st Floor
Corona, New York 11368