The monster fatberg reminding us to recycle waste cooking oil

Monster fatberg in Whitechapel

The recent news about the ‘monster’ fatberg in the sewers of east London is a startling – and rather grisly – reminder of why we shouldn’t pour used cooking oil down the drain.

Measuring 250 metres long, the Whitechapel fatberg is the length of two Wembley football pitches or 11 double decker buses. And it’s packed rock-hard with wet wipes, nappies, sanitary products, fat and, yes, used cooking oil.

The largest fatberg that Thames Water has ever found, it was spotted on one of their routine sewer inspections – which luckily meant that they managed to avoid sewer flooding in the local area.

It will take them four weeks to clear the giant 130-tonne fatberg from London’s Victorian sewers.

A team of eight uses high-pressure water jets to break up the mass before sucking it out with tankers, which takes it away for disposal at a recycling site in Stratford. The aim is to completely clear the sewers.

Thames Water worker clearing fatberg

“This fatberg is up there with the biggest we’ve ever seen. It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove as it’s set hard,” said Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks.

“It’s basically like trying to break up concrete. It’s frustrating as these situations are totally avoidable and caused by fat, oil and grease being washed down sinks and wipes flushed down the loo.”

Thames Water plans on working with biodiesel refineries to turn the fatberg into 10,000 litres of biodiesel.

The learnings? We always tell our customers – never pour used cooking oil, fats or new cooking oil down the drain, or flush anything other than toilet paper. Find out about Thames Water’s Bin It Don’t Block It campaign.

What to do with your used cooking oil

If you work in a professional kitchen, you’ll need a certified waste cooking oil collector, like Proper Oils, to collect and recycle your used cooking oil, turning it into a green fuel, biodiesel. Find out how your used cooking oil is turned into biodiesel.

At home, pour your waste oil into a jar and contact your council for the location of your local recycling centre. Proper Oils also runs a recycling scheme for households called Unblocking the Community.

If you’re looking for a used cooking oil collection for your business, or simply want to find out more about Proper Oils’ services, please call us on 020 8894 9476, fill in our form or email

Read more:

Introducing ‘beyond carbon neutral’ used cooking oil collections
Why should you recycle your professional kitchen’s used cooking oil?
Customer case study: collecting waste cooking oil from 8 Hoxton Square restaurant
5 ways to store large volumes of waste cooking oil


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