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Grease Guidelines for Businesses

When businesses discharge grease into the sewers, it can cause sewer backups and interfere with the City’s sewage treatment operations. The improper disposal of grease also violates New York City’s Sewer Use Regulations and carries monetary penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. In many cases, the law requires that the polluters appear in court every time a fine is issued. Please note that Food Waste Disposers are not allowed for commercial establishments in New York City.

Download Preventing Grease Discharges Into Sewers in multiple languages to learn about the problem of grease in the sewers and how it impacts businesses:

Download these two documents for more information about practices and requirements for food service establishments:

Download these signs to make grease reduction efforts more visible to employees:

Sewer Regulations Concerning Grease

To ensure the proper disposal of animal fats and vegetable oils, and to prevent sewage back-ups, the City requires grease-generating establishments to correctly install, operate and maintain properly sized and designed grease interceptors. These grease interceptors must be routinely cleaned to ensure proper operation. (For more information see “NYC DEP Sewer Use Regulations, 15 RCNY Chapter 19”.)

On November 9, 1998, the City amended the Sewer Use Regulations. These amendments clarify existing requirements and provide for self-certification of grease interceptors by a NYS licensed Professional Engineer or Registered Architect. Self-certification relieves regulated establishments from a lengthy departmental review process.

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

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 DEP’s Bureau of Wastewater Treatment, Compliance Engineering Section, for technical assistance.

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. DEP routinely sends 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 back-ups, 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