• Have a question? Just call us on 01455 894413
  • Lines are open Mon - Fri 9AM - 5PM
  • Order 24 hours a day / 7 days a week online

Monthly Archives: August 2019

  • FOG, Grease Traps and the Law

     

    The modernisation of the food industry has seen a lot of improvements and additions to a commercial kitchen. Every year, more of these commercial kitchens and food joints are opened, all offering different cooking practices and cuisines to an ever-ready clientele.

    With commercial kitchens producing more food than ever before, waste becomes a normal occurrence. Some of the waste finds itself in our environment. This is an unavoidable and sad reality, yet from it, you get to enjoy a well-prepared meal from your favourite restaurant.

    Governments, in an effort to ensure that commercial food establishments are responsible for managing the waste, have come up with laws that enforce responsibility and ensure that the environment is not harmed.

    One such law pertains to FOG and Grease Traps.

    A considerable amount of food preparation techniques require the usage of oil and fats. Most of these oils and fats end up as waste which is then discarded from the kitchen through various means. Improper disposal of these waste materials can result in the formation of grease build-ups which in turn cause harm to the environment.

    Some of the effects of improper disposal of FOG in the environment include the formation of fatbergs. These, in turn, accumulate in drainage and sewerage systems causing blockages and potential damage to the environment and wildlife.

    People working in a commercial kitchen

    Grease Management Systems

    Grease management systems work by preventing fats, oils, and grease (FOG) from getting into the drainage systems where they can accumulate. Businesses are urged to be more proactive than reactive when it comes to grease management. This, they can do by installing proper grease management systems such as:

    • Grease traps- Also known as grease interceptor and grease recovering device. It works by collecting FOG before entering drainage systems. They come in different sizes to meet different drainage requirements.
    • Grease removal systems (GRUs) or separators- They separate FOG from grey water and collects it to prevent clogging.
    • Biological dosing- This uses bacteria to act on the grease and breaks it down before it enters the drainage system. It is ideal in situations where grease traps would cause hygiene concerns. Dosing units are installed to periodically release the bacteria and nutrients which the acts on the FOG.

    Each grease management system is effective for what they were designed to do. However, the results are not always 100%. None can guarantee that all FOG will be kept out of the sewers. Some businesses choose to double up equipment to increase effectiveness.

    Laws and Legislation on Grease Management

    Currently, grease management systems are not compulsory by law. However, catering and foodservice establishments are legally responsible for any blockages in the sewers directly linked or traced back to their premises.

    There is a number of legislation surrounding grease management. They include:

    • The British Building Regulations (document, section 2.21) which requires new build commercial food establishments serving hot food to install grease traps or separators.
    • The water industry act 1999 indicates that it is a criminal offence to allow any matter to enter the drainage systems which may impend the natural flow of waste matter
    • Section 59 of the Building Act 1984 states that a local authority can require satisfactory drainage. This makes it possible for the relevant authorities to enforce grease management mechanisms.
    • The Food Safety Act 1990 stipulates that any build-up or blockage caused by FOG in drains fails to comply with food hygiene regulations. Businesses found to be in contravention of this law can suffer heavy repercussions.

    These are some of the many laws that govern the handling of grease in commercial food establishments.

    Water companies run routine checks on businesses dealing with hot food to ensure that there is proper installation and usage of grease traps. This is to ensure that businesses whose actions can lead to the introduction of FOG in drainage systems are compliant with the set standards. They can and will issue fines should a business owner neglect using the right grease management systems.Food being dipped in hot oil

    Grease Management Practices

    Normally, FOG is introduced into the drainage systems through various practices carried out in the kitchen. Practices such as dishwashing, cleaning of floors and sanitation practices might end up pushing some of the spilt FOG into these systems. It is why grease management is advised.

    Grease management doesn’t just have to be the equipment that you buy and install. While such equipment is important in ensuring that FOG does not end up in drainage systems, it is also important to note that you can take come counteractive measures to reduce that amount of FOG that lands in the grease traps.

    Remember, just because a business has installed a grease trap doesn’t make it immune from prosecution should a fatberg form. If the grease management system isn’t correctly installed or is neglected in terms of cleaning and maintenance it will be useless, allowing FOG to filter into public waterways. Businesses can still be prosecuted if it is proven that their ineffective grease trap has contributed.

    This is why it is important to incorporate these Best Management Practices in your business. It is also important to ensure that your staff is properly educated on these helpful practices. This also includes:

    • Using proper signage such as “NO GREASE” in front of sinks and dishwashers as a constant reminder. This acts as an ever-present reference for people working in the kitchen.
    • Educating your staff on how to handle old cooking oil. Practices such as ensuring that the collection barrels are covered and airtight at all times to prevent spillages and contamination.
    • A simple instruction to cooks and chefs on being conservative when using some of these cooking oils can also go a long way in reducing the amount of FOG finding itself in the drainage systems.
    • Viable and edible excess food can also be donated to prevent wastage. Some of the grease and oils used in preparing these foods will end up in drainage systems if the food is discarded.

    There are a number of in-house practices that can reduce/limit FOG entering the sewer. These include:

    Dry Clean-up

    This involves first wiping, scrapping, and sweeping of kitchen surfaces and equipment before introducing water. You can easily use a rubber scraper on cookware, utensils, serving ware, and chaffing dishes before washing them. Food grade paper absorbs oil in frying utensils thus reducing the amount of grease that may be discarded into the drainage systems.

    Use paper towels for surfaces to eliminate grease. Cloth towels might not be ideal for this kind of an operation because cleaning them will introduce FOG into the drainage system anyway.

    Do not pour any grease and oils down the drain.

    Dirty dishes

    Prevent Spills

    Spills are a common occurrence in busy commercial kitchens. These can be avoided by keeping the workplace clean and dry at all times. This prevents accidents.

    Cover food when cooking if possible and ensure that food transportation from one point to the other or from one utensil to the other is carried out using the right equipment to prevent spillages.

    Proper Management of Grease Management Equipment

    While grease traps and GRUs are ideal, there is little they can do if routine maintenance is not carried out. This also includes ensuring that they are properly fitted. Cleaning them regularly to prevent the stockpiling of trapped FOG will also raise the hygiene standards of your drainage system.

    Recycling

    It is possible and advisable to recycle waste cooking oil and use it for other purposes. In the UK, this practice is mainly carried out by the environment agency however other licensed contractors are available.

    Save for the reusing practices in many kitchens, old cooking oil is collected in containers and turned into other usable fuels.

    For example, vegetable oil can be turned into motor fuel through a process known as hydrocracking and hydrogenation. These processes aim at turning them into fuel such as diesel. It is usually referred to as renewable or green diesel. It can also be turned into oils used for heating processes.

    Cooking oil being poured into a bowl

    Use the Right Dishwashing Practices

    A 3 sink dishwasher system is ideal in this situation. It basically involves three steps of cleaning which ensure proper grease management. Utensils are first taken through Pre-wash, wash, and rinse stages.

    Every utensil should be wiped clean before being loaded into a dishwasher. This gives you the chance to collect all grease and oils into one place for proper disposal.

    For automatic dishwashers which use hot water, setting the right temperature is always advised. If the water is too hot then the grease will melt and slip through grease traps before cooling down on the other side, potentially bypassing any grease trap you have in place.

    Mind sewer drains

    This is applicable when cleaning equipment such as grease hoods and filters. While they should be cleaned to prevent eventualities such as kitchen fires caused by greasy surfaces, always ensure not to clean them near drainage systems where waste product and residue can accumulate.

    Proper Grease Management is good for you

    Installing a grease trap or a grease recovery unit (GRU) is not only important for your business, but it is also a show of responsibility for a business owner. Installation and appropriate grease management saves money, not only for the water companies who pay the bill for clearing fatbergs but also for the public and businesses who ultimately foot the bill when these additional costs are filtered through to the general public in an increase to water rates.

    You will, therefore, save more by installing a grease trap or GRU because then you will avoid heavy fines from water companies. Additionally, you have peace of mind that you’re doing your bit for the environment.

     

     

     

  • Poor Grease Management and FOG – the Effects on the Environment

     

    The idea of the climate breaking down is a terrifying thought – and it can be difficult to see how small acts can add up to create such a huge problem. Poor grease management is, nevertheless, part of that problem. Let’s take a closer look… 

    It All Begins with An Inefficient KitchenBottle and bowl of oil

    Letting fats and oils go to waste, by cooking with more oil than we need and failing to re-use as much as we can, is not only bad for our bank balances.

    Those wasted fats and oils have got to come from somewhere: whether we are talking about animal fats or plant-based oils, we are talking about the end product of a long agricultural and industrial process, both of which see massive amounts of energy expended and tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere, contributing to the climate crisis which we are now experiencing.

    Remembering that oil doesn’t just cost money, it costs carbon, and keeping waste to a minimum is one small, easy step which we can all take to help avoid the breakdown of the natural world: know how much oil you need to use, don’t use more and re-use what’s leftover. 

    Then: Don’t Block the Drain

    Though it might be inevitable that some will slip and slide down the plughole, letting fats, oils and grease go down the drain is never a good idea: FOGs block pipes.

    If your drains are blocked, you are much more likely to pour a whole load of drain-cleaning chemicals down your sink.

    Just like the fats and oils themselves, those chemicals have got to come from somewhere. Just like the fats and oils, those cleaning compounds are the end product of a long industrial process which also expends a huge amount of energy and also releases tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

    Keeping blockages to a minimum by being careful to avoid FOGs slipping down your sink is one more way to protect the planet.

    In the Sewers

    Goslyn GOS40 GRUAnother way to save the world is to install a grease trap or grease removal unit.

    Without one, the fats and oils which do go down the drain flow straight through into the sewer (together with those cleaning chemicals).

    In the sewer, fats, oils and grease congeal in the cold and solidify, slowing the flow of sewage before eventually snowballing into fatbergs which clog the sewer altogether.

    We know that fatbergs make it more likely that our sewers will overflow, releasing raw sewage directly into our waterways.

    But fatbergs also amplify the toxicity of the sewage: they trap and hold everything which tries to flow past in place, from human waste and food deposits to wet wipes, condoms and drugs.

    In the sewer’s cool damp conditions, without much oxygen, harmful strains of bacteria thrive with plenty of time to anaerobically break down what is in the sewage, producing toxic by-products.

    The environmental impact of this increase in toxicity comes into play when we try to…

    Clear Out the FatbergWater jet

    Fatberg extraction usually means a small team working for weeks with high-powered jet hoses to break down the berg. Usually working at night, they need lighting for the street and for the sewer. Then they need vans burning fuel to cart off chunks of the berg to a sewage treatment plant. This is a lot of energy which would not need to be used if it wasn’t for the fatberg.

    On top of this, fatbergs make sewage treatment far less efficient. The more toxic the sewage and the more solid the matter, the more processing that sewage needs: this means more energy and more industrial chemicals (like chlorine) need to be used to treat it.

    What comes out the other side will not look so pretty, either. When dealing with a fatberg, a lower proportion of clean water and a higher proportion of the waste product or sewage sludge will be produced than if the treatment plants only had to deal with the 3Ps (pee, poo, paper).

    What Can We Do?

    Thames Water and Argent Energy have teamed up to convert fatbergs into biodiesel, meaning that at least some of those sewer blockers can become fuel.

    While this does off-set the energy required to deal with the fatberg problem, however, not having a fatberg problem in the first place would be much better for the natural world.

    Install a grease trap or grease removal unit – and come back soon to read about the impact of poor grease management on wildlife.

     

  • Why Do Grease Traps Smell So Bad? A Solution

    Fried foods tend to smell pretty tasty, but rancid FOGs (Fats, Oils and Grease) rarely do. Because of this, trapping grease in a box and leaving it there for it to go off may not seem like such a good idea, at first. Those first thoughts can make some forget the environmental benefits and put off investing in a grease trap.

    But, those first thoughts are wrong. Here’s how to avoid the grease trap stink problem.

    First, let’s go over the basics:

    How Do Grease Traps Work?

    Most grease traps look pretty simple: a box with a pipe feeding in and a pipe feeding out. They are found in the midst of a food business’ drainage pipes, usually in a back room (where the dish-washing goes on), either visible, above ground, or neatly tucked away beneath a manhole cover.

    Grease traps can come in several different sizes. The more FOGs a business produces, the bigger the grease trap they will need: a chicken and chip shop will need a bigger trap than the raw-vegan eatery down the street.

    Grease traps are designed to give the hot greasy water which you pour down your plughole a chance to cool. As that greasy water cools, the oils in it solidify and float to the surface.

    Many grease traps are designed with a grease separation chamber which (you guessed it) keeps this surface layer of solidified FOGs separate from the rest of the water. Many grease traps also contain a sludge trap which catches all of the solid bits of food which sink to the bottom of the box. The water, in the middle, then continues on its journey to the sewers.

    How passive grease traps work

    Now: What Makes the Trap Stink?   

    With those layers of FOGs and solid food sludge separated out, ever-present and ever-hungry bacteria get to work. The worst of the smell actually comes from the decomposition of the solid food deposits at the bottom of the grease trap: this is the layer which will cause bacteria to release pungent nitrates and rotten-egg-smelling sulphates as they digest it.

    Luckily, grease traps are fitted with pretty good seals which tend to hold back most, if not all, of these odours.

    But, if the smell is too strong to be held back…

    What Can You Do About It?

    While trying to kill the bacteria in your trap by pouring gallons of disinfectant down your drains may sound like a simple solution, there’s nothing better than simply cleaning your grease trap out regularly.

    How regular “regularly” is will depend largely on the size of the grease trap in question: the smaller the grease trap, the faster it will fill up. While some need emptying every week, others can go three months without being drained.

    Even better, get an expert to clean your trap out for you. While some types of traps, such as automatic grease traps, are designed to make it easy for you to dispose of your FOGs yourself, going for a larger stainless-steel trap and employing a professional can be a sensible step further for a bigger food business.

    Not only will this spare your unluckiest member of staff some dirty work, you can rest easy knowing that your trap is in safe hands: no parts will be misplaced or replaced incorrectly and, in the long term, your chosen professional can keep an eye on how the trap is working (checking the seals for wear and tear which may make them faulty, for instance).

    Looking after your grease trap well will help it look after our sewers. Most grease traps begin to lose their efficiency once they are a quarter-full: after that, FOGs begin to slide right through. So, keeping your grease trap clean and maintained in full working order will not only save you from the smell, it will help to save our planet from this slimy pollution.

3 Item(s)

Top