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  • Top 10 Tempting Things to Flush that You Know You Shouldn’t

     

    In the UK, we have the benefit of having an effective and efficient waste system. Unlike some other, less developed countries, the Victorians made great strides to ensure that sanitation was improved. Many of the sewers in London today are the same as those built in Victorian times, but this has led to some people taking this system for granted.

    There has been a lot of advice over the past few years, encouraging both businesses and domestic properties to only flush what they call the three P's - Pee, Poo and Paper. This is because there has been an increasing number of incidents of un-flushable items ending up blocking sewers such as the famous ‘fatbergs’.

    As a business, it is important to know what you can and cannot flush down the toilet and sinks, because there have been a number of companies fined for allowing FOG (Fat, Oil, Grease) to enter the wastewater system. However, it is important that domestic premises also follow these rules to avoid any potential problems with the water supply and do their bit to prevent fatbergs from forming.

    Here is a list of the top 10 tempting things to flush that you know you shouldn’t.

    1. Wet wipes, paper towels, tissuesKitchen rolls

    Another major issue for sewers and sewerage treatment plants is wet wipes and other paper products other than toilet tissue. The problem with these products is that they often contain amounts of plastic which don’t dissolve properly. These include wet toilet wipes that claim they are flushable.

    It is important that nothing apart from toilet paper is used in the toilets, and that paper towels for drying hands has a separate rubbish bin for people to use. It can also help to have signs placed on the walls reminding people not to throw paper towels in the toilets.

    1. Sanitary wear

    One of the biggest issues for the physical plumbing structure in buildings is sanitary wear. These products are designed to absorb and swell and this then leads to them blocking the pipework running from the toilets to the outside sewers.

    For businesses, the provision of sanitary bins in toilets will help to eliminate this issue. For domestic properties, women should be encouraged to wrap used sanitary products in paper and then place them in a bag and put in it the household refuse.

    1. Cotton buds

      Cotton ear buds

    Cotton buds are often used when applying makeup or for cleaning out ears. These have in the past, been made from a thin plastic stem, with cotton wool on each end. Although more companies are now switching to paper stems, they are still not easily broken down in the water. Another concern is that they can get lodged in the sink U bend and cause a blockage.

    To avoid these from entering the sewers, they should be placed in the refuse after use, even if using the paper stem variety.

    1. FOG down the sink

    FOG, or Fat, Oil and Grease, is a huge problem in sewers around the country, but can also be a big concern for businesses. Under the UK Water Industry Act 1991, and the Building Regulations Part H (Drainage and Waste Disposal) 2002, companies have a responsibility to ensure that a suitable grease trap is installed and maintained.

    Water companies have the ability to seek compensation from companies for issues relating to fat, oil and grease if they can prove the contaminants came from their business. It’s vital for foodservice businesses to install grease traps that will prevent any fats or oils from entering the wastewater system.

    Fat should be scrapped into a refuse bin, or recycled according to local regulations. Oils can often be recycled, so the local authority should have details of the process that is needed.

    1. Coffee grounds down the sinkPortafilter with coffee grounds

    Coffee grounds might look like something that will cause no issues if emptied down the sink, however, this is not the case. Unlike other foods, coffee grounds expand and absorb in water which can clog the smaller pipes in the sink.

    To avoid this, it is essential that coffee grounds are emptied into the refuse, or into a compost bin.

    1. Condoms

    Condoms, both new and used are designed to be resistant to tearing and damage. This means they are often made from latex and other materials that do not break down. Flushing these down the toilet can not only cause an environmental problem, but they can also fill with water and other debris and block sewers and wastewater pipes.

    Condoms should always be disposed of in the refuse the same as sanitary products.

    1. Cigarette butts

    Although there is now a ban on smoking in public places, there is still a real risk ofCigarette butt cigarettes entering the wastewater system and causing harm. Cigarettes are comprised of a filter made from cellulose acetate, the paper contains rayon and the tobacco contains, nicotine, carcinogens and many other toxins. This combination can be extremely hazardous to wildlife and also cause major concerns for the wastewater treatment plants.

    There should be a cigarette bin located outside where smokers are allowed to smoke. For domestic properties, butts should be placed in sand and then thrown out with the refuse.

    1. Chewing gum

    As you might imagine, chewing gum is incredibly sticky, even when it’s in water. This means that it can get stuck inside pipes and collect other debris and block the flow of water.

    Having strainers in urinals and in the sinks will prevent gum from entering the water pipes. It is also important for workers and people in domestic homes to put used gum in the refuse.

    1. Prescription or illegal drugsBlister pack of medication

    Medication is often disposed of in the sink or in the toilet, as people think that it will disperse and not cause any problems. However, although the medication may well dissolve, the chemicals will not, and can cause serious environmental damage to wildlife and fish.

    Medication and other drugs should always be disposed of responsibly by taking them to a local pharmacy.

    1. Goldfish

    Flushing a fish down the toilet is never acceptable, whether dead and especially if alive. If still alive, the fish will likely go into shock and the chemicals used in the water treatment process will also be toxic to the fish.

    Live fish can be sold to other people or donated to a school, or even humanely euthanised by a vet. Dead fish can cause just as many issues, so instead of flushing them, they should be placed in the refuse or buried in the garden.

    Whether you are running a business, or in a domestic property, the things that go down the sink or the toilet can have a huge impact on the environment and on the infrastructure. Remember to act responsibly and only flush the three Ps, and nothing else.

  • How Is Corona Virus a Threat to Our Sewer Systems?

    Coronavirus is moving fast. Alongside surges in the numbers of detected cases, and calls for lockdowns in cities across the world, supermarkets in the UK are currently facing panic buying on an unprecedented scale.

    Alongside mass-sales of hand sanitisers and soap, packs of toilet roll have been flying off the shelves of British supermarkets, too. But, while stockpiling soaps and sanitisers has been rightly condemned - as a sales-trend which could have serious consequences for those who need that soap the most - the sales in loo roll have been laughed off by many, as simply ridiculous.Toilet rolls and empty cardboard tubes

    Ebay auctions which have seen packs of 72 rolls of Andrex flogged at over £50 a pop are certainly laughable, but the sinister consequences of this sales trend are nothing to scoff at. It could well spell disaster for our sewers.

    How?

    Feeding Fatbergs

    While toilet rolls are designed to break down in our sewers, and so ensure that our waste water continues to run smoothly, the shortage of loo roll is already driving Brits onto the alternatives – which are not so sewer-friendly.

    Already, people are resorting to kitchen roll, tissues and the dreaded wet wipe – but sending any of these down your drains could help to feed a blockage.

    Wet wipes in particular have long been known to help fatbergs grow much faster than they would otherwise. Failing to break down, they remain as solid matter around which fat, oil and grease waste accumulates, clumping together, solidifying and snowballing into fatbergs over time.

    Those fatbergs then block sewers, making sewer overflows more likely. Sewer overflows, in turn, send raw sewage straight into our waterways - damaging habitats and, eventually, threatening our health.

    Cartoon hand with liquid soap and virusIt’s a knock-on effect of the pandemic which will make a bad situation much worse -and it’s not the only one. Alongside excessive toilet roll purchases driving an increase in improper bum-wiping, a national shift in handwashing habits may also end up contributing to further sewer clogs.

    Soap, undiluted and unused, which makes it down our drains and into our sewers can act as a glue, sticking clumps of FOG waste together and helping fatbergs to grow that little bit faster. The lesson we need to learn: Use soap, and wash your hands for 20 seconds, but don’t use more than you need – don’t send an excess down our drains.

    Now, more than ever, our sewers need our help:

    We Are About to See a Significant Shift in the Fatberg Problem

    The volume of FOG (fats, oils and grease) waste being sent into sewers looks set to rise.

    Water companies have been attempting to raise awareness about the fatberg problem for many years now. With the threat of fines, they have been hard at work persuading food businesses to follow good grease management protocols and to install and maintain high quality grease traps to deal with their FOG output.

    Food businesses were the right focus for those awareness campaigns when they were being run: in normal circumstances, fast food joints, restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes, which prepare huge numbers of meals a day, are undeniably the biggest contributors to the FOG problem.

    But these are not normal circumstances: the coronavirus pandemic is about to bring about a significant shift in who is responsible for the FOG problem. With food businesses across the country set to close, they won’t be emitting any more fats, oils and grease. Households will overtake them.

    Households have, for a long time, been major contributors to the fatberg problem – but the collective impact of our households has for a long time taken a second place behind public eating places. But, as the entire population stays at home, preparing all meals in domestic kitchens, the shift could spell disaster for our sewers.Fried egg in frying pan with egg shells

    For starters, most members of the public have little awareness of the fatberg problem - most of those who don’t spend their time trawling through FOG news, don’t know the consequences of sending old cooking oil straight down their drains.

    Even for those who do know, and do want to do something to stop the formation of fatbergs in our sewers, it can be difficult to do something about it. Usually, unless your local authority runs a grease-disposal service, to get rid of household FOG, you’ve got to save it up until you’re able to drive it to your local waste treatment centre and drop it off. With a pandemic restricting movement to the essentials, it may be months before anyone is able to make those trips.

    As a result: it’s likely many will end up taking the easy option - sending that cooking oil straight down the sink.

    At a time when home-fried comfort foods are likely to become ever more common in household kitchens across the country, we Brits are set to give fatbergs an unprecedented helping hand.

    Find out more about fatbergs - what are they and what are they made of in Anatomy of a Fatberg.

    Water Companies Have their Work Cut Out

    Woman wearing facemaskWater company workers already struggle to deal with the sewer blockages which arise from an average year – with Thames Water alone spending £18m every twelve months clearing out 75,000 blockages.

    But 2020 is not a normal year. With the population panicking, water companies will have a gargantuan task to deal with over the next few months, just to keep our sewers running as they were.

    Britain’s newfound buying habits are a large part of the problem. With shortages in face masks making the work of water company fatberg removal crews that bit less safe, they’ll also be contending with a flood of FOG waste down our drains, compounded by toilet paper alternatives and an excess of gluey soap residues.

    Water companies will struggle to keep us safe, and to keep our sewer systems running smoothly.

    You Can Help

    Stay safe and stay self-isolated but, when you need to make a run to the shops for the essentials, keep calm and buy only what you need, be mindful of fats, oils and grease going down your kitchen sink and only flush the 3 P's down the toilet. Our sewers are relying on you.

  • The Truth About Fatbergs

     

    We Brits love our food fast and fried – with England alone being fit to burst with nearly 60,000 fast-food joints. As we gorge on endless pizzas, fish and chips and Chinese takeaways, the businesses which we pay to produce our deep-fried mains, snacks and sides are churning out thousands upon thousands of tonnes of fat, oil and grease (FOG) waste.

    And that’s not to mention Britain’s 27 million households, tens of thousands of restaurants, pubs, and canteens (to be found in offices, schools, hospitals and prisons up and down the country) – who all contribute their fair share of FOG.

    Where does it all go? The answer to that question is one which many of us would rather ignore.

    Often, those difficult-to-dispose-of FOGs end up being sent straight down our drains and into our sewers, where they contribute to one of the biggest problems which we face today: fatbergs.

    But what exactly are these monsters lurking under our streets?

    What is a Fatberg?

    Fatbergs are a relatively recent phenomenon. They got their name in 2013 when the first fatberg was found in a sewer in Kingston Upon Thames in London. They first found fame in 2017, when a 250 metre, 130 tonne mass of fat was discovered in a sewer in Whitechapel and quickly hit the headlines.Metal sewer manhole cover

    Since then, many more have been discovered and studied, leaving us with some early ideas of how they form and what they are made of.

    We have discovered that our ageing Victorian sewers are particularly prone to fatberg formation. The walls of our sewers are uneven, rugged, with plenty of nooks and crannies which, it turns out, FOG waste loves to cling to as it cools.

    Once our old cooking oils and used fats find one of these cracks, they bind to it and to each other, swirling by the walls until they catch more and more FOG. Along with fats, oils and grease, these swelling masses of waste catch anything else which happens to be flowing past – including wet wipes, condoms, tampons and, dependent on the habits of the people who live in the streets above, dentures and, even possibly syringes.

    The waste snowballs, building up and growing denser – until the coagulated clog becomes as hard as concrete. Gradually, the sewer becomes blocked – with the usual flow of raw sewage slowing and eventually coming to a stop.

    What Happens Next?

    • Fatbergs wreck the Environment

    Our sewers can only cope with so much. Sometimes they overflow. Sewers overflow for one of two reasons: either the sewers have filled up with an excess of water – perhaps due to a heavy storm – or something has happened which means that the sewer can no longer handle the usual volume of wastewater.

    For fatbergs, the second reason is the most relevant. Fatbergs take up space in our sewers, making them less effective and making it more likely that they will overflow, sending raw sewage straight into our waterways.

    These sewage overflows are bad for our streams and rivers for two further reasons. The first: raw sewage is often pretty toxic, containing chemicals and dangerous strains of bacteria which can kill many of the plant and animal species which call our waterways home. The second: raw sewage contains a huge amount of nitrates and other nutrients. This may sound good – it is not. An excess of nutrients in a body of water can cause excessive growth of certain plants, such as algae, which can make life difficult for the other plants and animals which live alongside them.Pipe spilling out water onto sand and into sea

    • Fatbergs Threaten Your Health

    While some fatbergs are much more dangerous than others, picking up a chunk of any berg with your bare hands is never a good idea.

    A sizeable number pose physical risks – with used needles being found in many of those bergs which have been pulled out of sewers in our cities. Many more are likely to contain that mix of toxic cleaning chemicals and dangerous strains of bacteria which have been seen above to threaten the lives of our flora and fauna.

    But even if you aren’t planning to touch a berg any time soon, you may still come into contact with them indirectly. These lumps of fat are a food source which is loved by rats – whose populations often boom in areas of our sewers where a fatberg is forming. These pests, moving freely between our streets and our sewers, may even traipse traces of faecal-matter soaked FOG into our homes.

    Fatbergs are a menace. So:

    How Do We Remove Them?

    Water company workers are currently responsible for finding fatbergs in our sewers.

    But they have their work cut out. While fatbergs have been known to smell like a mixture of rotting meat, searching for them is often like looking for a needle in a haystack. With tens of thousands of miles of sewers to check manually, it’s time-consuming work.Pickaxe and spade

    When a fatberg is finally found, crews get to work using high powered hoses alongside old fashioned chisels and pickaxes to work away at the bergs, breaking chunks off at a time and sending them off to sewage treatment plants.

    The price tag on these removal operations can be huge. The average fatberg calls for weeks of work and a budget of around £100,000 – with the worst cases taking far longer and costing far more. To remove the 2017 Whitechapel berg, for instance, Thames Water had to spend £2million over 2 months.

    While some programmes, such as that being run jointly by Thames Water and Argent Energy, aiming to turn fatbergs into biofuels have helped to offset these costs, the fatberg problem is still an expensive issue to be reckoned with.

    As those costs are increasingly being passed on to food businesses deemed responsible for nearby bergs in the form of fines, it’s a good idea to get on the right side of the fight.

    Do Your Bit To Prevent The Bergs

    Invest in and professionally install a good quality grease trap and you’ll have laid the foundations for an excellent grease management plan. Take care of your trap properly and your trap will keep your FOG output in check by intercepting your wastewater and allowing the fats, oils and grease which have slipped down your drains some time to cool, solidify and stay out of our sewers.

    Get your stainless steel grease trap today and do your part to fight the fatbergs.

  • How Are Commercial Catering Equipment Manufacturers Tackling Fatbergs?

     

    We’ve all heard about the fatberg problem. Fats, oils and grease (FOGs) are slipping down our drains and into our sewers where they cool and coagulate, forming huge concrete-like fatbergs over time which block pipes and make it more likely that raw sewage will overflow directly into our waterways.

    It’s a huge issue and we are all, in part, responsible. Those FOGs are coming from households, offices, schools, prisons and hospitals across the country. But the culprits most often pointed out in the media – and most often fined by water companies for playing a part in creating these sewer-blockers – are food businesses.

    From fast food joints to fine-dining restaurants, food businesses are being called upon to take on the FOG problem and ensure that they are doing the very best they can do to make fatbergs a thing of the past.

    But, while food businesses can ensure their grease management practices are up to scratch and invest in some quality equipment – it’s the producers of that catering equipment who have the real power to solve the fatberg problem once and for all.

    So: what are commercial catering equipment manufacturers doing to tackle fatbergs?

    Let’s look a little closer.

    Synergy and the Synergy Grill

    Synergy grills are renowned for their quality output. They’re sure to produce clean and succulent char-grilled results which look and smell fantastic, each and every time. They’re also ideal for catering to a wide variety of dietary requirements: with a low smoke output and optional grill divide, you can cook safe in the knowledge that you won’t have chicken flavours drifting over and mixing with your vegetarian offerings, even if they’re on the same grill.

    Gas flame with text 'in the future fat is vaporised' Synergy grill vaporises fat

    What’s more, Synergy Grills are great for cracking down on grease. The FOG which inevitably drips through the grill’s racks falls prey to a high-heat unique gas burner system which simply atomises fat, leaving an easy to collect layer of dry and dusty debris to be vacuumed away once the grill is cool and the racks are removed.

    Ensuring you avoid contributing to the FOG problem while producing quality food time after time, a Synergy grill can be an excellent investment.

    But, Synergy are not the only brand looking out for food-preppers conscious of their fat, oil and grease waste.

    Rational and the Grease Drip Collector

    Rational have a whole range of grease solutions for those who need them.

    For those who already own a Rational oven and are looking for a solution to their combi oven’s grease problem, for instance, Rational offer an innovative Grease Drip Collector. Sitting below the unit, these drip collectors ensure that any stray drips of grease which might otherwise find its way onto floors or walls or other surfaces ends up all in one place.

    Once collected, the grease can then be left to cool until it’s safe to handle. Once it is, disposal is made that little bit easier with Rational’s Drip Collector’s tap and drain hose allowing you to simply siphon the grease off into a container which can be sent out with the rest of your FOG waste.

    Sometimes the least-complicated solutions are simply the best, but Rational also cater for those who are looking for something a little more high tech.

    The Centrifugal Grease Extraction System

    Centrifugal separation involves pumping a mixture into a spinning chamber where gravitational forces separate the mixture into layers and so make the various elements of that mixture easier to collect.

    Rational have taken the idea of centrifugal separation and applied it to grease management – to enable fats, oils and grease to be separated from water and collected with ease.

    Rational combi oven centrifugal  grease extraction system Rational combi oven centrifugal grease extraction system

    Integrating centrifugal grease extraction systems into their cooking appliances, from their Combi-Ovens to their Cooking Centres, Rational have ensured that cooking air is kept consistently clean – meaning you’ll be producing great tasting food time after time. Meanwhile, you won’t need to worry about those pesky additional grease filters any longer.

    If centrifuges are a little too high-tech for you – but you like the idea of clever innovations – another catering manufacturer may have the answer for you:

    Unox and the SMART Drain

    Unox knows that grilling, frying and roasting whole heaps of food, particularly meat, can spell disaster for a food businesses’ drains. And they know that the FOGs inevitably produced from all that cooking can cause chaos in our sewers.

    So, they’ve designed an add-on for their combi ovens, such as the Cheftop, which aims to make it easier for you to intercept the fats, oils and grease which seep out of your foods while they cook before they make it anywhere near your sinks.

    The SMART drain is essentially a two-way valve which sits below your Unox appliance and above a waiting container. This valve is programmable: it’s able to work in sync with the cooking programs of the appliance in question and its positioning can be easily adjusted from the appliance’s control panel if necessary.

    Unox smart drain below Cheftop MindMaps Plus combi oven in cabinet with door open Unox Cheftop MindMaps Plus with SmartDrain in optional closed stand

    With a touch of intelligence, Unox’s SMART drains can make grease collection a little more foolproof, so that all you have to worry about is swapping out the collection containers once they’ve filled up and responsibly disposing of that FOG waste.

    These three brands go to show that there are plenty of catering manufacturers in the market working to help food businesses tackle the fatberg problem with a range of innovative solutions. And there are sure to be many more of those solutions on their way: the future is bright for grease management.

    But, we haven’t made fatbergs a thing of the past just yet: there is still plenty more we could be doing, as an industry, to ensure that our sewers keep running as smoothly as possible.

    If you are a food business owner looking to do your bit, and looking to invest in some of these great pieces of catering equipment, be sure to begin with the basics – invest in and install a good quality grease trap today.

  • Getting Ahead of Spring Cleaning – Review your Grease Management

     

    Running a busy catering business has many demands that need to be met. Not only do you need to provide the best service to your customers, but you must also ensure that your premises and in particular, your kitchen, is up to standard. However, sometimes, with the demands of a busy business, some of these routines can be delayed or missed such as dealing with the way you handle fats and grease.

    With Spring fast approaching, it is the ideal time to review procedures like your grease cleaning schedule and see what measures need to be improved.

    Why is Reviewing Grease Management Procedures Important?

    All areas of a busy kitchen need to be closely monitored and regularly reviewed. Not only is this important for the health and safety of your customers and staff, but it is also a legal requirement under HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points).

    It is vital that all the equipment that is used in the kitchen is cleaned effectively to remove fat and grease. It also ensures that any risk of fire is greatly reduced due to residual fat or grease.

    The best way to ensure that fat and grease is removed responsibly is to set up a Grease Management Procedure that can then be used by your staff. This procedure sets out the cleaning schedules needed, what cleaning substances can be used, and when oils should be changed and disposed of safely.

    There are several areas of the kitchen that need to be monitored, not just for cleaning purposes, but also to ensure the procedures are followed during cooking and washing up.

    Grease Traps

    Stainless steel grease trap

    One of the most important pieces of equipment in the kitchen when it comes to grease management is the grease trap. The Water Industry Act 1991 stipulates that it is a criminal offence to permit anything to enter the drainage system that may impede the natural flow of the water. If you allow fat and oils to enter the drainage system, this can cause blockages. These blockages are also an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990, so it is vital that you ensure you have a grease trap fitted, and that it is properly maintained.

    A grease trap is attached to the wastewater outlet from the kitchen area and is used to separate out fat and oils from the water. Periodically, the grease trap needs to be emptied and the waste matter disposed of in the correct way.

    It is important that workers do not treat the grease trap as a food disposal unit, and remove food and residual sauces and oils from plates and equipment before washing.

    Oily Foods

    Food that leaves oil is common in a restaurant because of dressings and the cooking process in general. However, this oil should be kept out of the grease trap and indeed the kitchen pipework and drains whenever possible. If there is a substantial amount of oil, then this needs to be disposed of in a food waste bin before the plates or equipment is rinsed and washed. Any that does make its way down the sink should be intercepted by your grease trap and prevented from travelling further into the drainage system.

    Cooker and Fryer Oil

    The oil that is used in a fryer or a cooker needs to be changed periodically to ensure it remains clean and fresh for the customer. Disposing of the waste oil is important, as it must be removed and processed in the correct way.

    There are many commercial recycling companies that will take your used oil away and dispose of it safely. Used oil must be poured into sealed containers and stored safely until it is collected. This includes any oil or FOG collected by your grease trap and removed during routine cleaning and maintenance.

    Scraped FoodDirty plate with knife and fork

    Any food that may be left on a plate, must not be washed down the drain. This can cause a blockage in the wastewater system and lead to problems with the grease traps and drainage systems in general.

    Food should be scraped from plates and cooking equipment into a bin or compost container where it can be safely collected and disposed of according to local requirements. Any residual sauce or oil from dressings should be wiped from the plates with a paper towel before being rinsed and loaded into the warewasher.

    There should also be a drain cover placed in all the sinks so that food particles are trapped before going down the drain.

    Cleaning

    Part of the grease management procedure is to regularly carry out a cleaning schedule in the kitchen. This is important for many reasons:

    • To eliminate the risk of fire from grease and oil near cooking equipment.
    • To ensure no contaminants are left on surfaces
    • To prevent the build-up of bacteria
    • To stop any fats, oils and grease (FOG) from entering drains

    The cleaning schedule needs to take into account all areas of the kitchen where oil or grease may collect. This includes:

    • Fans and Cooking Hoods
    • Walls
    • Floors
    • Under cookers and storage units
    • Ovens and fryers
    • Grease trapsCleaning spray, cleaning liquid and cloths in bucket

    Surfaces can be cleaned with hot water with detergent, and then cleaned with a disinfectant to ensure bacteria is not present.

    Cookers and ovens will need to be cleaned with a degreasing agent. It is important to follow the instructions carefully to prevent damage to the equipment.

    Grease traps need to be cleaned when they are a maximum of 25% full in order to remain effective at trapping FOG. This can be carried out in-house or by a professional depending on the type and size of grease trap installed.

    The cleaning schedule needs to be regularly updated and records kept so that any inspectors that check your kitchen can see that regular cleaning is taking place.

    Top Tip: Remember that the water used to wash any greasy surfaces will have an element of grease in it afterwards. If disposing of this water down the sink, an element of FOG will go with it. Make sure you have a grease trap in place to catch this waste.

    Staff Training

    One of the most important parts of the grease management process is staff training. It is important that all staff that work in the kitchen are suitably trained to follow the procedures so that you can maintain a clean and safe kitchen. Some of the areas staff will need training are:

    • Food safety, so that they cook and prepare food correctlyWashing hands in water in a sink
    • How to use cooking equipment in the kitchen so that they are safe and no contamination occurs
    • Personal hygiene rules such as wearing hair covering and washing of hands
    • Learning the cleaning procedures and knowing which cleaning chemicals to use in what areas of the kitchen.
    • Understanding the importance of grease management with regards to FOG.

    This training may need to be reviewed and refreshed if there are changes in the legislation if a new piece of equipment is installed and indeed with every new start employee.

    Running a commercial kitchen requires a lot of organisation and discipline to make it work efficiently. By training your staff to follow procedures and ensuring they are kept up to date, you can help keep your business compliant and safe.

  • The True Cost of a Grease Trap

     

    Grease traps are currently in use in kitchens across the country, intercepting fats, oils and grease (FOGs) before they make it out through waste water pipes and into the sewers, where they’ll form fatbergs over time.

    The FOG problem is pollution pure and simple: fatbergs make sewer overflows more likely and so make it more likely that raw sewage will end up being sent straight in our waterways. A high quality grease trap, maintained in good working order, can be relied upon to help stop such overflows from happening – cutting down on the environmental costs of our national love of fried fast food.

    What’s more, a good trap can be relied upon to protect you from financial penalties: as each berg costs water companies £100,000 to remove and, increasingly, those costs are being passed onto food businesses deemed to be at fault.

    All in all, grease traps are great. But many people are still asking: are they really worth it?

    For those who are new to the FOG issue, the price tag seems huge.

    So, let’s break it down. Starting with:

    The Big Buy

    Stainless steel grease trap

    The price tag on a new grease trap set-up will vary immensely, depending on the size of the GT, the number you’ll need, the quality and the type: whether manual or automatic. You might be spending anywhere from just over a hundred pounds for a very small and flimsy manual trap to thousands for an automatic trap in a size more suited to a full restaurant.

    Want to know how to work out how much a grease trap will set you back? Here’s a quick guide:

     

     

    • Size

    To work out the size you’ll need, you need to work out your waste water output. If your pipes are properly installed, you’ll be able to find this out with ease: by checking your waste water pipe diameter. Decide what size grease trap you need and get a trap which can handle your flow.

    • How many traps do you need?

    If you’ve got multiple waste water pipes which don’t come together within your kitchen, you may need to buy a couple of traps rather than just the one. While this will double your price tag, it’ll be cheaper than reconfiguring your piping.

    • Quality

    While the start-up costs may be greater, a higher quality trap will last far longer than one with flimsy components in the same conditions. Take the GreaseMaster GM50, for instance: it weighs in at £2,600 including VAT, but comes with a life expectancy of over ten years. Split that start-up price up over its life span and £260 a year for premium grease management doesn’t sound so bad.

    • Type

    Manual stainless steel grease traps are cheaper than automatic traps. But while manual traps are passive – they’re just a box which slows the flow of waste water long enough for the FOG and solid matter to separate out from the water – automatic traps will actively strain the waste water to remove the solids, making it easier to collect and dispose of them. This extra expense makes clean-up quicker.

    How Do I Know If I Should Get a Manual or Automatic Grease Trap?

    Up-Keep

    To ensure your trap keeps keeping your FOG out of the sewer for as long as possible – you’ll need to treat it kindly.Cleaning spray, sponge, bowl and rubber gloves

    You’ll need to clean it. Automatic traps collect FOG in a separate container that is easily accessible and convenient to clean. Passive or manual grease traps require more input. Once they are 25% full of FOG, grease traps stop working as effectively and they’ll start letting some fats, oils and grease slide on into the sewers. To keep passive traps working optimally, you’ll need to crack yours open once a month (at least), scoop out the FOG and solid waste and scrub that box until it shines.

    This regular cleaning isn’t without its costs. Doing it yourself will save you money, but you’ll still have to pay for equipment, which you’ll need to pump the waste out of your trap, and for grease disposal. The cost of in-house time and labour spent cleaning also needs to be factored in.

    If you have some extra money to spend – say £2,000-4,000 per year – you might want to go with the pros instead. Saving you the hassle, booking in professional cleaners on the same day each month can also help ensure that your grease trap is scrubbed out and checked over by experts like clockwork – many cleaning companies even charge surcharges if your trap is over 25% full, giving you an incentive to ensure that you look after it well.

    That incentivised GT care can mean that, in the long run, disasters are averted and you save yourself a fortune in emergency repairs.

    If you want to step-up your FOG game even more, you may want to add some add-ons.

    Add Extras

    GreasePak Biological Drain Maintenance System GreasePak Biological Drain Maintenance System

    Adding well chosen extras to your grease management arsenal is a great idea but bear in mind that going the extra mile can cost a little extra, too.

    Bio-dosers are all the rage right now with two types currently available – those which work on your drains and those which work on your traps. They all work in essentially the same way: by regularly releasing a dose of fat-digesting bacteria which coat the walls of your pipes or your trap. These bacteria then begin to break down the FOG around them, ensuring that your traps take longer to fill up and so ensuring that your FOG waste is even less likely to end up in the sewer.

    Adding a bio-dosing set-up to your grease trap will cost you a couple of hundred pounds to start with and then around £600 a year in re-fills. Meanwhile, adding a bio-doser to your drains will cost around £500 in start-up costs and then around £400 a year for refills.

     

    How Does the Cost of Getting a Grease Trap Compare To Going Without?Calculator with sheet of calculations and pen

    Looking at the priciest options: a high-end trap will set you back around £3,000 and, with a top-of-the-range drain bio-doser at around £500 and the best professional maintenance, you’ll be looking at £3,500 total start-up costs and then £4,400 a year – a total of £7,900 for your first twelve months of first-rate grease management. Ongoing annual costs thereafter will obviously be less as you already have the equipment in situ and the only thing required is maintenance.

    That sum pales in comparison to the fines we’ve seen handed out for fatbergs, ever since a Cambridgeshire Chinese restaurant was fined nearly £16,000 for poor grease management in 2006. While there have been some restaurants who have got away with less, the colossal £400,000 fine Thames Water handed out last year to a food factory suggests that fines for fatbergs will only be getting heftier in the coming years.

    While the cost of a grease trap can seem sizeable, the costs of going without can be catastrophic for any small business – not to mention the environment.

  • Could Oil Banks Help to Fight Fatbergs?

     

    Fats, oils and grease (FOGs) are still making it down our drains and into our sewers where they cool and coagulate, mixing with wet wipes and other solid matter to form fatbergs over time. Not only do these fatbergs make it much more likely for our drains to overflow, sending raw sewage straight into our waterways, but each fatberg also costs £100,000 for water companies to remove.

    Fatbergs are a big problem. Luckily, there are many ideas and inventions currently at work attempting to stop them from popping up.

    Besides the trusty and traditional grease trap, food businesses can now indulge in add-ons such as bio-dosers, which use chemical or bacterial mixtures to break down FOG in drains or in traps.

    Meanwhile, water companies are spreading the word not only amongst food businesses but – fully aware that household FOG waste is a major contributor to the fatberg problem - amongst the general public too. As a result, we now all know not to flush anything except the 3Ps (pee, poo and paper), and we all know that pouring FOG down the plughole is never a good idea.

    And many more initiatives have gone a step further - by making it easier for members of the public to properly dispose of their fats, oils and grease. Recently, we’ve seen councils across the country encourage people to store up their FOG in plastic bottles and put it out with their food waste on collection day.Blue recycling box drawing with green bottles

    But there may be another method of FOG waste collection which we’ve seen tried out in the last few years, and which may yet prove a powerful force in fighting fatbergs:

    Oil Banks

    Back in 2015, Sainsbury’s teamed up with Scottish Water, Olecco and Zero Waste Scotland to figure out how to get the public recycling oil.

    Together, they set up a trial-run of cooking-oil collection banks in the carparks of seven Scottish Sainsbury’s in Leven, Kirkcaldy, Linlithgow and Edinburgh. In one of the first attempts to introduce oil banks, customers were invited to deposit their household fat, oil and grease waste in plastic bottles and dump them into the big bins the next time they visited for their weekly shop. The oil was then sent off to be converted into biofuels.

    Two years later, in 2017, Norfolk City and South Norfolk Councils teamed up with Anglian Water and Living Fuels to launch a similar initiative called Keep It Clean. Their trial-run saw an initial five cooking oil banks set up in supermarket car parks across the two councils’ jurisdictions which were then joined by six more. Again, customers were encouraged to collect up their FOG and dispose of it properly.

    It Did Not Go To Plan

    While the format was familiar – similar recycling banks for clothes and other waste are a common sight across the country – the users of the Norfolk oil banks didn’t quite catch the brief.

    The Living Fuel workers tasked with emptying the oil banks began to find gas canisters and bits of broken glass in amongst the bottles of FOG. With the threat to health and safety evident for all to see, all eleven of the waste oil banks were removed, and the trial-run was abandoned.Empty glass bottles on floor

    It was a set-back. In fact, it was a set-back so severe that the idea of publicly accessible oil banks seems to have disappeared altogether. But, given the space of years it may be time to ask:

    Why Did Oil Banks Not Work?

    One answer may be promising for oil bank fans.

    That is: they didn’t work because too few people knew what they were for. It was a lack of awareness which led to them being closed down.

    Too few cared about FOG. Understandably: few have time to consider the implications of their FOG output or to wonder where the waste which goes down their drains eventually ends up.

    That’s why the signs on the banks were not obeyed – and why foreign objects strayed into the wrong trash pile. The public were not ready for easily accessible fat, oil and grease disposal.

    But, one day, will they be?

    Could Oil Banks Return?

    Oil banks may still be an idea worth pursuing.

    In the long-term, if public awareness was the issue, they could make a return once more people know about the FOG problem – once recycling fats, oils and grease becomes as commonplace as recycling paper and plastic is now.  While, as with most public recycling banks, misuse will remain inevitable, once more of the public are on-side, misuse will become less frequent.Green recycling banks with man recycling

    In the meantime, the idea could still be handy for areas which are densely packed with small food businesses.

    While fast food chains can easily handle the costs of having their FOG waste picked up by professionals on a regular basis, smaller food businesses can struggle to put together enough money on their own to make such regular pick-ups feasible.

    Creating commercial cooking oil banks, accessible only to local businesses who are clued up and conscious of good grease management practices, could offer a solution. While many small food businesses already pool their FOG waste on an informal basis, pitching in together to have their fats, oils and grease picked up at the same time, commercial oil banks could formalise these local networks and make them easier to set up where they don’t already exist.

    Oil banks could make grease management easier for the small food business owner. And making management easier is crucial if we’re going to find a solution to the FOG problem.

    Providing accessible banks for small businesses struggling to make ends meet could just bring those teetering on the brink of not bothering with a grease trap onto the right side of the fight against fatbergs. And with them onside, spreading awareness amongst their customers and community, more of the public will get clued up, too.

    Oil banks may not have worked in the recent past, but, working alongside the classic grease trap, Oil Banks Could Still Be The Future. 

  • Rethinking the Usual Suspects

     

    Fatbergs seem to be forming everywhere. Across the country, fats, oils and grease (FOG) are slipping and sliding down drains and into our sewers where they cool and solidify into huge sewer-blocking masses over time.

    These discoveries have left many wondering: who’s to blame?

    Everyone’s got an idea of who to point the finger at, but, as with any finger-pointing, the reality is often more complicated than it seems.

    Let’s look a little closer.

    The Usual Suspects

    If the finger is being pointed anywhere, it’s being pointed at fast food businesses.Fish and chips in paper

    Fast food joints get a bad rap. From the chippy on the high street to the Chinese on the corner, these businesses crank out deep fried mains, snacks and sides.

    They clearly use more cooking oil than any other small businesses. And, because they use the most oil – everyone assumes – they must be the worst FOG offenders and the plague of fatbergs we are facing must be down to them.

    But, with an awareness of fatbergs on the rise, more and more fast food business owners are facing up to the FOG problem and their own environmental, legal and even moral obligations. They’re getting clued up and it’s clear why: being in the know is good for business.

    Vito oil filtration cleaning used cooking oilFor one, cooking oil itself is costly. So, most fast food businesses use sophisticated oil filtration – cleaning their cooking oil regularly so that it can be re-used, over and over, the maximum number of times. In this way, fast food businesses not only give their profit margins a boost, but they also reduce their FOG output.

    And then there’s the risk of water company fines. Fatbergs cost water companies over £100,000 each to remove and those costs are increasingly being passed onto those businesses which are deemed responsible, in the form of fines.  Fast food joint owners know that when a fatberg is found near them, water company inspectors will come knocking on the doors of local businesses – and they’ll start with the chippy.

    Knowing this, most fast food business owners are sure to keep their grease management GBPump fitted next to sink with a grease trappractices up to scratch. They install high quality grease traps and they clean them out regularly, while sometimes throwing in a few add-ons, such as bio-dosers, which further reduce the risk of their businesses allowing stray fats, oils and grease to make it into the sewers.

    Increasingly, the usual suspects are becoming ever more conscious of the FOG problem and doing what they can to tackle it. People are realising that their initial suspicions of takeaways and fast food joints being the origins of troublesome fatbergs are being challenged.

    Anyone Can Contribute to the Fatberg Problem

    The fats, oils and grease which are necessary to form a fatberg can come from anywhere.

    One example:

    • Canteens

    At the end of 2019, a fatberg the size of three elephants was found beneath Strangeways prison in Manchester. The culprit: the prison canteen. While an individual meal may require only a small amount of oil to be used, and produce only a small amount of FOG waste – that FOG waste adds up if you make three meals a day, seven days a week for nearly one and a half thousand people.

    The same is true for the canteens attached to hospitals, office blocks, universities and schools. Without good grease management, these large kitchens feeding huge numbers of people numerous times a day will end up sending tons of FOG down the drains.

    But at least these kitchens are staffed by professionals. Those pros are more likely to be up to date on the issues facing the industry – and, therefore, they are more likely to be doing something about the FOG problem.People cooking in commercial kitchen

    The same cannot be said for:

    • Households

    As the 64 metre fatberg found in the quiet seaside town of Sidmouth showed us, a town doesn’t need to be bustling with huge numbers of FOG producing food businesses to produce a berg. A town of retirees can do that pretty much on their own.

    It can be confusing and complicated for members of the public to get rid of their used cooking oil. So, much of it ends up being poured down the sink through sheer convenience. As households are also very unlikely to have a grease trap or indeed any other grease management solution, that FOG goes straight to the sewers.

    An individual household’s FOG output is small, even over a year, relative to a small business. But, added, up, the FOG output of a town or city of residential homes can be huge.

    Add to that the impact of the wet wipes which many people are still flushing down their loos without a second thought – sending them into the sewers where they become key to the structure of fatbergs – and it is clear that the general public play their part in creating the FOG problem.

    But few people think they do anything which could be helping to cause the monstrosities in our sewers, after all, their input is so small it can’t be making a difference, can it?Woman cooking in kitchen

    Which brings us onto:

    • Coffee Shops

    As Britain becomes a nation of coffee drinkers, with a café on every corner, vast quantities of waste coffee grounds are being produced. Coffee grounds don’t break down.

    Ideally, they should be sent to the compost heap, but, in the rush and hurry of a coffee shop, this can seem like just a little too much work – some of those grounds will inevitably be sent spilling into the sink.

    We don’t yet know whether they really do help produce fatbergs, because the study of fatbergs is in its infancy. We only know that it is unlikely that those coffee grounds and other small solids do much to help the situation.Coffee grounds

    Cafés may be just another example of how we all, often unwittingly, contribute to the fatberg problem in our own way.

    So What’s the Answer to the FOG Problem?

    It’s not just down to the usual suspects behaving badly. In fact, as those usual suspects begin to behave much better than everyone else, the fingers are beginning to point at the rest of us and the usual suspects are actually the unusual suspects.

    We all need to take our FOG responsibilities seriously. That means businesses getting tough on grease with more grease traps and bio-dosers, and more regular cleaning and maintenance routines. It means households getting to know how to avoid putting FOG down the drains and it means catching any solid matter before it enters our sewers by installing something as simple as a sink strainer, at home and at the office.

    Solving the fatberg problem requires teamwork – do your bit today.

  • What Should I Do If My Grease Trap Leaks?

     

    Grease traps save the planet and they save you from water company fines by managing your kitchen’s output of fats, oils and grease (FOGs) – preventing these FOGs from entering the sewers where they form fatbergs over time.

    Grease traps are not meant to leak. If yours is spewing waste water across your kitchen floor, you’ll need to do something about it sharpish – before reflecting on what caused this costly catastrophe.

    For those of you knee-deep in FOG, we’ll start quickly, by addressing the priority.

    How to Clean up the Spill

    • Shut your kitchen down.

    You can’t continue to serve customers if there’s waste water all over your floor, and your staff can’t be wading through waste to prepare food: it's not safe and definitely not hygienic. The minute you spot the leak, get those premises vacated.

    • Cut off the supply.

    Turn off any taps and appliances which may be pumping waste water into your grease trap. Don’t feed the flood.

    • Diagnose your problem.

    Try to identify where the leak in your trap is coming from and, if you can, fix it.

    Janitors cleaning troller

    Is your grease trap overflowing – in which case, has the lid been secured properly? Or is the pipe leading to the sewer blocked, leading to waste water backing up into the trap?

    Or, is there a hole in the trap? In which case - can you plug that hole?

    Stop the leak or overflow if you can but, if it’s clearly a job for a professional, leave it to the pros – if you haven’t already, call your grease contractors in.

    • In the meantime, clean up the mess.

    Mop up the FOG to make the area safe. Ideally, use a spill kit: with absorbent pads and waste disposal bags, these are well worth having on hand in case of a crisis in the kitchen. If you haven’t plugged the leak in the trap, pack a number of these pads around the hole so that they can continue to absorb the waste. Throw away any contaminated ingredients and damaged equipment.

    • Once the worst is over, contain the trap.

    This may mean wrapping the trap up in plastic lining and, if you can, removing the trap altogether. Put some distance between the trap and any surfaces it could contaminate.

    • Finally, deep clean.

    This is a job best done by professionals. Grease trap cleaners often have services which respond to grease trap leaks and overflows: they can pressure wash your floors and use solutions containing fat-digesting bacteria to break down any FOG which is still sticking to surfaces. If you don’t want a lingering smell in your kitchen in a few months’ time, call them in. Plus, as a commercial food service premises preparing food for the public, it’s vital that you conform to all food safety and hygiene regulations. This includes excellent levels of cleanliness without potential bacteria being present from residual grease trap spillage.

    Once your crisis is over, what's your next step?

    Replace or Repair your Trap

    Waste water contains highly acidic fats, oils and grease as well as cleaning chemicals – an acidic mix which, over time, can corrode metal. Given that your trap will have a constant supply of waste water, it’s not surprising that most metal grease traps have a life expectancy of 5 to 12 years.

    Quality, however, usually means longevity – with better traps surviving the waste water flow better than the rest. If your previous trap was of a low standard, with flimsy parts, replace it with a new trap made of sturdy stainless steel: get the right size for you – not so small it overflows too quickly – and get it professionally installed.Stainless steel grease trap

    Quality also gives you an alternative to replacement. If you’ve got a quality trap installed, you may have a quicker and more cost-effective solution: repair. There are a number of companies across the UK which offer to repair your grease trap by re-lining the walls with fresh metal and so covering up any holes or weak areas. Do some research and go for this option if you can.

    Once you’ve got your new or good as new trap in place, remember that

    Prevention is the Best Medicine

    While it may be inevitable that your grease trap will one day fail, it is not inevitable that it will cause a devastating leak when it does.

    If you care for your trap well, you can lengthen its life-span – and if you keep an eye on it, you’ll be able to intervene before FOG comes pouring out into your kitchen.

    One of the simplest ways of caring for your trap is to regularly clean it out.

    Depending on the size of your food business, you may wish to employ a professional grease trap cleaning service – who will also monitor the state of your trap and carry out any necessary repairs to keep it in working order.

    If you decide to go it alone, however, here’s a quick guide to inspecting a grease trap.

    Inspecting a Grease Trap: Step by Step

    • Start simple: Does it smell?

    Bad smells can indicate that there’s a hole in your trap or that the seals aren’t working thus allowing the odour to escape. Regular cleaning will make bad smells less likely, but know that if a stench does come wafting across your kitchen that your trap may be calling out for a closer inspection.

    • Check for corrosion.Two metal grease trap couplings

    Rust on the outside of the trap is a clear sign that your grease trap will need to be repaired or replaced – ideally before that corrosion compromises the integrity of the walls.

    • Check the couplings.

    The points at which waste water enters and leaves your trap are two of the most vulnerable parts of the grease trap. Check the connections between the pipes and your trap are water-tight by running a (gloved) finger around them – if these couplings aren’t dry, you may need a plumber.

    • Open the trap and check the seals.

    If there’s any residue making it onto the outside of the trap through the seals around the lid, it’s a sure sign that the seals are faulty – and in need of replacement.

    Getting into the habit of cleaning your trap regularly and inspecting it each time you do will make a catastrophic spill far less likely. Meanwhile, you’ll be helping your trap save the planet while saving you from those hefty water company fines.

  • Title: New Strategies for Tackling Fatbergs in 2020 and Beyond

     

    The fatberg problem is huge: out of the 200,000 sewer blockages in the UK each year, 75% are caused by fats, oils and grease (FOGs).

    We all know how it goes. FOGs slip and slide down our drains and into our sewers, where they cool and coagulate, clumping together over time into monsters which block the flow of wastewater through the sewer and lead to all sorts of problems: from a boost in rat populations to sewer overflows, which see raw sewage stream straight into our waterways.

    With the UK at the forefront of the issue, with more fatbergs appearing in our sewers than in any other country around the world, it can be difficult to see a future in which the FOG problem is a thing of the past.

    So, let’s think about what the future might hold for the fight against FOG – and what that future needs to look like if we are going to crack the problem once and for all.

    Raising the Alarm

    At the moment, awareness campaigns target food businesses. It’s the food businesses who are told that they have a responsibility to manage their FOG output, and it is food businesses who are threatened with fines from water companies if they don’t co-operate.

    While expanding initiatives such as the Grease Contractors Association to get more businesses and companies co-operating to solve the problem would be a great way to keep up the good work, there’s a key area which we are struggling with, in the awareness-raising department.

     

    Wooden chopping board with knife, saucepan, ingredients and cooking oil

    Household waste makes up a significant proportion of the FOGs which make it into our sewers. Yet disposing of household fats, oils and grease can still be confusing and inconvenient. Few have time to find out the details of what they shouldn’t be putting down their sinks (does old milk count as a fat?) and few have time to stock-pile old oil before taking the bottles on a trip to their local dump.

    Without tackling household FOGs, fatbergs won’t be going anywhere any time soon. But, to do it, we need a well-organised public response to the problem which takes into account the difficulties people can have disposing of their FOGs.

    Not everyone is passionate about grease – and it will surely be a struggle to get millions of individuals across the country to reach and maintain high levels of grease management in their homes and in their businesses.

    It will be a similar struggle to the initiative to get more people recycling – but, if the proportion of our waste being recycled is going up, slowly but steadily, we can manage to get more FOGs disposed of properly, too.

    With a team effort, the future could be fatberg free.

    While we can all chip in, there are some who could:

    Take the Lead

    This could mean the government introducing legislation which ensures food producers cut down on the amount of fats, oil and grease they put into the foods we eat – cutting down on the FOGs entering circulation in the first place.

    Or it could mean the government introducing more incentives for water and energy companies to team up in the initiatives we are already seeing – converting fatbergs into biofuels in order to offset their effects.

    But leadership doesn’t necessarily need to come from government. The grease management industry needs to continue to lead the way in fine-tuning the armoury which restaurants have access to, by innovating to improve the grease-fighting products on offer.Stainless steel grease trap

    That might mean introducing greater automation to passive stainless steel grease traps or automatic grease traps or GRU's to make the clean-up operation easier or finding an innovation which means that their efficiency begins to fall when they are 75% full, rather than after the current 25% boundary.

    It could also mean boosting the efficiency of bio-dosers, such as GreasePak, with stronger yet safer strains of bacteria breaking down fats, oils and grease in drains or in traps.

    Both the government and the water industry could then take this lead to face the problem head-on.

    In The Sewers

    There’s considerable room for an upgrade.

    The Thames Supersewer – currently under construction – promises to bring with it a time when fatbergs in the capital will no longer cause raw sewage to flow straight into the river.

    What if such improvements were seen right across the country?

    Our current Victorian sewers are perfect breeding grounds for fatbergs. The plentiful supply of nooks and crannies in their rough walls are one reason why: FOGs cling to cracks and wait to attract more FOG - the masses of fats, oils and grease then snowball, particularly as wet wipes and other solid matter snags on the walls and lend a helping hand. Meanwhile, the tiny diameters of many sections of our sewers make them ripe for a blockage.

    Our sewer system is crying out for re-development. New sewers could have unblockable wide tunnels and smooth concrete walls which FOG would struggle to cling to.Cross section of large drain pipes

    What’s more, we could apply some of the technology we already have. Adding sensors to monitor build-ups of solid matter, for instance, or introducing large-scale bio-dosing, by maintaining a sewer environment which is favourable to the strains of bacteria which break down fats.

    With a standardised sewer system, we might even be able to borrow from the mining industry or take advantage of the soon-to-come leaps forward in Artificial Intelligence and robotics to ensure that no humans need to be tasked with breaking down fatbergs by hand – a machine could do the dirty work for us.

    Costs are, of course, the obstacle. But most fatbergs currently cost over a hundred thousand pounds to remove. How many fatberg-removals will it take before a sewer renovation becomes the cheaper alternative?

    As it stands a future without fatbergs seems quite far away. But there’s no reason to lose hope. In fact, it’s time to get practical and get down to business. Do your bit to stop FOGs entering our sewers, and bring a fatberg free future that little bit closer.

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