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Monthly Archives: September 2019

  • Making Good Use of Grey Water

     

    Water is one of the most important resources in the world. Nations spend billions every year trying to ensure that every citizen has enough water for their daily use. This has seen billions of litres of water being pumped into our homes and businesses every year.

    Despite this, development, population growth and other factors have increased the need to have more water. These factors have also contributed to the immense wastage of water which is hurting the environment.

    In the UK, it is estimated that the average person uses 150 litres of water every day. This is a lot of water for one person. Multiplied by the entire population in the UK, and you will find that there is a lot more water being used today that twenty years ago.

    Commercial establishments tend to use higher quantities of water at any given time than domestic properties. The question, therefore, is not what they use the water for but how they use it.

    It is not strange to find water being wasted in restaurants and catering businesses as drains are ever flowing with water generated from activities such as dish washing, general cleaning and even food prep.

    This water is called greywater.

    Much of this greywater is reusable and can help reduce water wastage which will eventually ensure that there is more water for everyone and that the environment is kept safe. However, it is important to understand how and when to use greywater.

    Symbol of waste water leaving pipe with a strike through

    Measures Have Been Taken

    Wastage of water does not go unnoticed. That it is why the Love Water Campaign was founded, to get people to use water more responsibly. The Love Water Campaign aims to sensitise people on responsible usage of water. Their aim at protecting water is backed by a number of different organisations in the UK.

    All businesses can play a role in the proper utilisation of water by following the guidelines provided by the Love Water Campaign. You can also work by minimising the amount of water you waste by investing in a recycling system.

    Collection and Use of Grey Water

    It is possible to use greywater for other purposes in a commercial setting. All you need is a greywater recycling system that will collect all the water you pour down your sink and in drains before filtering it and pumping it back into areas like your toilet for flushing and washing machine. Businesses who choose to liven up their premises with a few plants for decoration can also use greywater to regularly hydrate their foliage. Greywater should never be used for cooking or during food preparation for hygiene and food safety reasons.

    There are a number of treatments available each dependent on where the greywater has come from and what it may potentially harbour e.g. food debris. While processes such as septic tanks, ‘wetland’ and ‘sand filter’ methods are effective, many businesses will not have the time or resources to implement these treatments. A ‘direct use’ system for the watering of plants and a mechanical filter system for other uses is the most viable for many premises. Mechanical filters operate by collecting greywater and pumping it to a tank where it is treated (typically with chlorine) before being redirected to wherever it’s needed.

    Waste water flowing into public water killing fish

    Recycling of greywater comes with a few rules and advisories as it involves collecting dirty water and reusing it in establishments that need to maintain the highest hygiene standards. Here are some things to consider before you set up a greywater recycling system.

    1. Untreated greywater is not to be stored

    For the most part, greywater contains organic materials which tend to decompose and produce odours if stored for too long. This can paint a bad picture and bring about unwanted consequences for your business. Make sure that whatever greywater you collect is recycled and used immediately.

    1. Use a grease trap

    You could also consider using a grease trap to collect the FOG that gets washed down the drains in a commercial kitchen. This prevents the accumulation of harmful food debris and solids as well as FOGs to make grey water a little less grey. Make sure to clean these grease traps regularly for efficiency purposes.

    1. Have as little contact as possible with greywater

    For hygiene purposes, minimum contact with greywater is always advised. There is a lot of waste going down the drains in a commercial establishment, especially if you handle many customers in a day. Maintaining minimal contact for ‘direct use’ systems allows you to maintain optimum hygienic conditions in your premises. Any mechanical filter system should be located well away from any food storage, food preparation and cooking areas.

    1. Your greywater treatment system should not pose a danger to the environment

    Other than reducing total water usage, one of the main reasons to recycle greywater is to keep the environment safe by minimising the number of pollutants entering water systems and rivers as a result of commercially treated greywater. Therefore, make sure that any mechanical filter system you use reflects this endeavour. This means avoiding chemicals that can harm the environment.

     

    There are many different ways to ensure the preservation of water for the sake of the environment. Carrying out these practices in a business can be challenging, the benefits however, involved in recycling greywater makes it a worthy venture.

     

  • GreaseShield vs Goslyn: Battle of the GRUs

    Just a few years ago, only a small minority of people had heard of FOGs, fatbergs and grease traps let alone more specialist terms such as grease removal units (or GRU’s). Now, the topic dominates the headlines with the term ‘fatberg’ even being added to the dictionary. The public, both on a domestic and commercial level are now greatly aware of the masses congealing in the public sewer systems on a global scale, the causes and how we can collectively combat the problem.
    Although grease traps offer a rudimentary solution for separating fats, oils and grease from wastewater before being deposited into the main drainage network, GRU’s or automatic grease traps offer a more sophisticated solution.
    Here we set the two leading suppliers of GRU’s head to head to determine which is the best grease management solution for your business.

    GreaseShield

    Based in Northern Ireland, Grease Shield specialise in the production of automatic grease traps available in a full range of sizes to accommodate different water flow rates. The all-in-one system is compliant with water regulations and has earned a number of notable awards.

    Effectively separating FOG into a separate self-contained cassette rather than just trapping it in the main tank, undiluted fats, oils and grease can be quickly and easily removed ready for disposal. Whether you have arranged for collection by an approved waste contractor or wish to dispatch product to conversion plants that deal with renewable energy sources, the whole separation and recovery process is simple and efficient.

    The design eliminates the need to access the interior of the device for easy, mess-free maintenance and as cleaning can be carried out in-house, you can reduce the costs incurred for the regular cleaning or pumping required with manual or passive traps.

    One of the pitfalls of a standard grease trap is that some people have noted a distinct odour emanating from the trap. This is often down to solid matter remaining in the trap, slowly breaking down and decomposing, emitting a strong stench. No need to worry about that with Grease Shield! Grease Shield benefits from a solids filter which ensures that any food debris is collected and can be disposed of on a daily basis. This process means that foul smells often associated with other manual grease traps are eliminated.

    Grease Shield automatic grease traps require a mains power supply used to operate a low maintenance FOG roller. The roller attracts FOG and repels water for effective separation. An automatic scraper takes care of the roller for you with minimal user input required. These systems also benefit from a recirculation process which sees greywater being redistributed back through the GRU to help clean the interior and increase the efficiency of FOG removal.

    Goslyn

    The Goslyn brand originated in the USA yet has become a global powerhouse synonymous with expert grease management and removal systems. Counting a number of major, worldwide brands as clients including McDonalds, KFC and Taco Bell, their automatic grease traps can deal with a range of water flow rates.

    Being compact and easy to install, Goslyn grease interceptors are extremely versatile and can be retro-fitted with almost all equipment that comes into contact with FOG. A highly efficient and cost-effective method of separating FOG from wastewater, it’s easy to see why this brand is recognised as a leader in the field.

    Featuring a solids filter, food debris as small as 2mm is removed from wastewater and held in an easy to access area for quick removal and disposal. Any finer particles which make it through the filter can be removed by using the self-closing silt or ‘flush’ valve. This only needs to be activated for around 5-10 seconds per day to effectively clean the system. As with the GreaseShield unit, the solids are removed, meaning there is no smell or odour created – a common problem in manual grease trap counterparts.

    The Goslyn system has an on-board heater which requires a small power supply. The unit utilises hydrostatic pressure at 40°C to maintain FOG in its liquid state. This combination of heat and pressure facilitates the effective separation of fats, oils and grease from wastewater with as much as 99.6% of FOG being pushed through the oil discharge valve into a separate collection chamber for easy disposal. The collected FOG is ready to be disposed of by a licensed waste contractor or sent directly for bio-diesel conversion.

    Unlike the Grease Shield’s automatic roller and plastic scraper that will periodically need replacing throughout the lifespan of the unit, a cost that may be covered under warranty in the first year, however, will be at your own cost after 12 months, Goslyn GRU’s don’t use any moving parts which could potentially breakdown. The only issue may come from the heater however with a massive 5-year warranty you’ll be covered in the highly unlikely event of a problem arising.

    The performance of the Goslyn GRU exceeds industry standards and guarantees the device always operates at peak efficiency. The resulting ‘clean’ greywater flows naturally through to the public sewer system, reducing the strain and demand on water treatment and processing plants and helping to combat those dreaded fatbergs.

    Comparing the GreaseShield & Goslyn at a Glance

    GreaseShield Goslyn
    Average Price (ex-VAT)  £3,000 £2,500
    Automatic 
    Solids Filter 
    Separate FOG Container 
    No Moving Parts 
    Power  Requires Power Supply Requires Power Supply
    No Chemicals 
    Cleaning  Empty/Clean Filter & Cassette Daily Empty/Clean Filter & Cassette Daily
    Warranty  12 Months 60 Months

    Our Verdict

    Both Grease Shield and Goslyn are undisputedly leaders in the field, both proving effective and efficient at dealing with FOG separation and grease management. With minimal maintenance and quick daily cleaning that can be carried out in-house, there’s none of the expense associated with manual pumping out of other grease traps and certainly none of the inconvenience of having to shut-down the kitchen for cleaning purposes.

    Overall, both the Grease Shield and Goslyn are much more effective than a passive grease trap but the bottom line is that the Goslyn has more plus points. Offering greater overall value for money, eliminating potentially troublesome moving parts and including a longer warranty, the Goslyn, for us, just pips GreaseShield to the post.

    Get in touch and tell us what you think.

  • Biggest Fatbergs on Record

     

    Is it me or does it seem like fatbergs are only getting bigger and badder -- that the problem is only getting worse?

    Back in 2013, when the word fatberg hadn’t even made it into the dictionary, a berg found in a sewer in Kingston-Upon-Thames was proclaimed the biggest in British history – the size of aSewer manhole cover bus, it weighed in at 15 tonnes.

    Since then we’ve been finding fatbergs which are over ten times that. The Whitechapel monster which hit headlines in September 2017 weighed in at 130 tonnes and only held the record for six months before an even bigger berg was found in South Bank in April 2018. In February of this year, a fatberg found in Liverpool trumped all others, weighing in at 400 tonnes.

    Though fatbergs are more likely to begin to form on the rugged surfaces of old sewers, and ours are some of the oldest in the world, they aren’t just a British problem. 47% of all sewage clogs in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency reports, are down to FOGs, while big ‘uns have been found in Melbourne and Baltimore, Singapore and Dannevirke, New Zealand, too.

    The fatberg problem has gone global and the increasing size of the monsters we are finding is scary.

    But Does Size Actually Matter?

    That depends.

    Of course, the length of a fatberg matters to those water company workers tasked with extracting them: the bigger the berg, the bigger the job.

    And size is what many news reports focus on: emphasising how long the berg in question took to be removed from the sewers, how much manpower was needed and how much money was spent.

    Those reports make the fight against fatbergs seem like a David and Goliath battle, which makes sewage sound much more interesting and certainly boosts awareness of the issue.Folding ruler

    But…

    Size Isn’t Everything

    And focusing on it mischaracterises the problem.

    In the short term, there’s the issue of catastrophising which we’ve talked about before: making fatbergs seem big and scary makes the problem seem insurmountable and so puts some off the idea of making the small adjustments they need to make to help solve the problem.

    And there could be long-term consequences of this focus, too.

    Fatbergs form gradually over time. The longer they are left the longer and heavier they get. Their size is only a measure of their age, so: our problem with massive fatbergs is really only a problem with old fatbergs.

    Water companies around the world, only recently alerted to the FOG problem, are only just beginning to work through a backlog of these old bergs: returning to unclog long-forgotten pipes, removing masses of FOGs which have been growing for decades.

    And, one day soon, they’ll remove the last giant berg from the sewers.

    We Need To Be Wary Of What Happens Next

    If we continue to focus too heavily on the size of bergs, our news reports might end up portraying that removal of the last giant as a final victory: we might feel that the problem is over with and we might just go right back to our old ways, pouring FOGs straight down the drains.

    But the problem will not have gone away.

    It will just have become all about the small fast-forming bergs which are currently being deemed too tiny to be newsworthy.

    Even they can wreak havoc: the BBC reported in 2013 that that puny 15-tonne Kingston-Upon-Thames fatberg was enough to reduce the sewer to 5% capacity; enough to lead to sewage being pumped straight into our waterways.

    Sewage pipe flowing into water

    So:

    Size can certainly be impressive and attention-grabbing, but we need to change our ways for good: to keep maintaining our trusty grease traps and always be mindful of what goes down our drains.

    Looking at the size and nothing else might make that behavioural change harder to attain.

     

     

     

  • 5 Ways to Avoid the Risk of a Water Company Fine

     

    Recently, the way foodservice operators have been disposing of their fats, oils and grease (FOGs) has come under increased scrutiny. This is partly because of the increasing number of stories emphasising the environmental and social impact of the UK’s fatberg problem.

    Why Are Water Companies Clamping Down?

    FOGs don’t dissolve in water, so if they’re flushed down the sink they cool, congeal, and combine with domestic waste to form giant blockages. Water UK estimates that there are more than 300,000 sewer blockages caused by FOGs each year. Clearing these blockages and cleaning up the flooding and pollution they cause costs the UK in excess of £80 million.

    Typically, wastewater from commercial kitchens contains a higher concentration of FOG than domestic kitchens. That’s why it’s businesses and not households which are being held most responsible.

    Any uncontrolled discharge of FOG by a foodservice operator, or a failure to act diligently, contravenes Section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991. If a water company finds that you’ve been flushing the wrong things down the drain, they could prosecute you. If you’re found guilty you could face an unlimited fine or even imprisonment. Also, if the water company have spent any money to clear a blockage you’ve caused, they can claim the costs back from you.

    To avoid prosecution, it’s important that you and your staff stop FOG from going down the drain. Here are a few helpful tips:

    Top 5 Tips to Avoid the Risk of A Fine from your Local Water Authority

    1. Wipe Plates Off Before Rinsing ThemDirty dinner plate

    The pot washers and ware washers in all food service businesses have an important role to play in stopping FOG and other food waste entering the sewage system.

    Firstly, you should always make sure everyone scrapes leftover food, vegetable peelings, and any grease from plates, pans and utensils into the appropriate waste bin. Then, before washing, wipe plates off using a kitchen towel to remove as much residual FOG as possible and put that into the bin too.

    1. Install a Grease Trap

    Last year an Indian restaurant in Shrewsbury was ordered to pay a £3,700 fine, a £120 victim surcharge and £5,446 for causing a sewer to overflow and pollute a nearby watercourse. Chris Giles, Head of Network Operations for Severn Trent, said the situation was “totally avoidable” and that “in this case, simply installing a small grease trap could have prevented the situation”.*

    Grease traps are something that every foodservice operator should have in place, they are theStainless steel passive grease trap easiest and most effective way to avoid any chance of prosecution and large fines.

    Passive or manual grease traps work by slowing down the flow of wastewater coming from the kitchen. The trap’s tank acts as a reservoir and as the wastewater cools the FOG begins to rise to the surface as it is naturally less dense than water. Conversely, any food waste which is denser than water settles at the bottom. The rest of the wastewater is free to enter the drains, while the FOG and food waste remains in the trap to be collected later.

    Automatic grease traps  have a primary solids filter which can be emptied separately and a small container where all FOG that is syphoned away from greywater is held ready for disposal. Greywater is then free to pass through to the mains sewer system to a water treatment or processing plant.

    1. Use Less Oil

    Olive oil and olives

    Almost all types of food preparation and cooking produce waste FOG. But fast-food restaurants which use a lot of cooking oil are the worst culprits. Where possible it’s best to try to find an alternative to cooking oil. But for some types of food, this simply isn’t possible. Therefore, an easy way to try and reduce the amount of oil your business uses is to strain or filter the oil used in deep fryers to extend its life.

     

    1. Correct Storage and Disposal of Oil

    Make sure you store any waste oil in an air-tight container, so it doesn’t attract vermin, and keep it well away from any drains or sinks in case of leaks. Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Protection Act Regulations 1991 requires all commercial kitchens to recycle their waste oil.

    The Environment Agency issues “waste transfer notes” to the contractors licensed to collect your oil. For each load of oil they collect you’ll need to fill in either one of these notes or a document with the same information on it, such as an invoice. Alternatively, you can register online to create a season ticket for a series of loads. You’ll need to keep each of these documents in a safe place because you’ll need to produce it for an enforcement officer from your local council or Environment Agency if asked. If you don’t you could be given a £300 fixed penalty notice or face prosecution.

    You can find your local licensed waste contractor by going to environment.data.gov.uk.

    1. Get an Expert’s Advice

    It’s important to remember that water companies don’t issue fines lightly. Where there is evidence that FOG is being discharged, they will initially work with the business responsible to help them meet their legal requirement. Their principal aim is to educate and reduce, not punish. It’s only repeated offenders which receive the worst fines. So, if you think your business has an issue with FOG don’t try and hide it, get help!

    Our advice is a great start, but the most important thing is that everyone working for you knows how to get rid of waste from your kitchen properly. Helping them understand why this is important is the most effective way to avoid a fine.

     

    *Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire

  • Poor Grease Management and FOG – the Effects on Wildlife

     

    Two weeks ago, we looked at the environmental impact of poor grease management: how releasing FOGs into our sewers wastes resources and helps to pump greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

    This week, we’ll look more closely at the impact of reckless grease disposal on wildlife.

    Beginning with the Smellskunk

    We’ve talked about the tendency for uncared-for grease traps to develop a stink before – and we may guess the consequences of this stench on wildlife: a stinking kitchen attracts rats and other pests.

    The stench of rancid FOGs in small concentrations in the corner of a kitchen is nothing, however, compared to the stench given off by fatbergs which, gradually forming to block our sewers, trap and hold sewage in place to ferment and decompose.

    In short: pouring grease down our drains leads to an almighty stink in our sewers which bolsters the populations of the wrong kind of wildlife and makes infestations of vermin in our homes and businesses much more likely.

    Then There’s Sewage Overflow

    Fatbergs block our sewers. Blockages make our sewers overflow more regularly: when they do, to avoid raw sewage bubbling up out of our household drains, the sewage is sent straight into our waterways.

    Besides filling the water with pathogens – disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites – which threaten to infect and kill anything alive in or near the water, sewage also leads to Bear catching fish in a riversuffocation.

    That’s because, once in our rivers, the raw sewage decomposes aerobically with the help of bacteria. That means bacteria, breaking down the sewage, use up oxygen dissolved in the water - oxygen which the fish in that water needs to breathe.

    Those fish prop up an entire eco-system: small fish are eaten by bigger fish which are in turn eaten by birds and mammals. If the small fish vanish, the creatures that prey on them and the creatures that prey on their predators will all go too.

    And that’s not all…

    Sewage Overflow Has Subtle Side Effects

    Here’s one:

    Sewage tends to be rich in phosphates and nitrates - nutrients which promote plant growth.

    But this is not as good as it sounds. When an overabundance of phosphorus and nitrogen in fast-flowing river water feeds into stiller water, such as the water of canals, it causes a process called eutrophication.

    That means that, during spring and summer, blankets of green algae bloom on the surface of the water. Growing out of control, the algae soak up all the sun’s rays and starve all the other plants in the water.

    Then, as summer turns to autumn, the mass of algae dies off and decomposes – again sapping the water of its oxygen and helping to suffocate the critters which rely on that supply.

    Pollution spells disaster for the ecosystems which live in our waterways.

    river algae

    But There Is Hope:

    The Thames is a prime example.

    Centuries of pollution have left lasting scars on the river’s wildlife: the salmon which once populated the Thames are long gone and invasive species, such as Chinese mitten crabs, now reign supreme where native species once thrived.

    But the news is not all bad. Over the years, the Thames has been polluted and cleaned up repeatedly and, each time, much of the wildlife which had fled returned once the water was cleaner.

    It happened in the 1850s, when the river, barren of life, harboured cholera and an awful stench. After Parliament commissioned the building of the Victorian sewer system, the river cleared up and small fish such as the sprat soon returned.

    It happened again in the 1950s when the river was declared biologically dead. The destruction of the Blitz during the Second World War had meant that, for over a decade, sewage was once again being dumped straight into the river. But, once the sewage system was back up and running, the river began to clear up. By the 1970s, the water was deemed clean enough to attempt to re-introduce the long-lost salmon.

    The Wildlife of Our Waterways Can Bounce Back – If We Clean Up Our Act

    Stainless steel passive grease trap Stainless Steel Passive Grease Trap 36KGB

    Pollution can cause permanent damage to the ecosystems which live in our waterways. But, it’s important to remember that we aren’t struggling in vain.

    After a great deal of conservation work to undo centuries of pollution, the Thames is now home to a huge variety of fish and invertebrates which provide food for even more birds and mammals - including 138 seals.

    If we take care of how we dispose of our FOGs, we can help to keep it that way.

    Do your bit for our river critters – install a grease trap.

     

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