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bio-dosing

  • 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.

  • Grease Digesting Bio-Dosers: A Standalone Solution?

     

    The Fatberg problem is huge: our national love of fried fast foods currently means that more and more fats, oils and grease (FOGs) are slipping into sewers across the country and forming fatbergs which cost water companies hundreds of thousands of pounds to deal with. Not only popping up in big cities, these monsters have also been discovered festering in sewers in seaside towns like Sidmouth.

    Understandably, the problem has left many of us looking for a miracle cure. One of the most popular being Bio-Dosing.

    But is it up to scratch? And could it replace our traps?

    To answer these questions, let’s start with the basics.

    Grease Traps or Bio-Dosers - What’s the Difference?

    The traditional method of handling FOGs, a grease trap simply sits in a corner of your kitchen, or underground beneath a manhole cover, and intercepts the flow of waste water from your sinks and appliances before it reaches the sewers outside.

    The trap slows the flow of your waste water and allows it time to cool. While the solid food matter in the waste water sinks to the bottom of the trap, the FOGs cool to form a layer of scum on the top of the water. The water in the middle is then filtered out into the sewers, while the FOGs and solid food matter remain in the trap to be scooped out, regularly, by you – so that you can send that waste off to be processed by a specialist plant.

    That specialist plant will use bacteria or chemicals to break down the FOGs.

    Bio-dosing brings the methods of those specialists into your kitchen – so that fats, oils and grease can be broken down as they slip through your drains or as they enter your grease traps.

    It sounds great and can be effective – but the big question which they have prompted is:

    Can Bio-Dosers Replace Grease Traps?

    To answer this, it’s best to begin by specifying that there are two types of bio-dosers: those which work in your drains, and those which work in your grease traps.

    The bio-dosers which some are saying could replace grease traps as a standalone solution are those which work by breaking down the FOGs in your drains.

    Let’s look a little closer at one of these.

    GreasePak Biological Drain Maintenance System GreasePak Biological Drain Maintenance System

    The GreasePak

    The GreasePak Biological Drain Maintenance System doses your waste water pipe every night with a strand of bacteria which is capable of breaking down even the most stubborn long-chain fatty acids, oils and greases. With these regular doses, it maintains a bio-film coating on the walls of your drains which begins to digest FOGs as soon as they slip past.

    Small and compact, the GreasePak slots neatly into place on the wall by your waste water pipe GreasePak on wall connected to drain pipe with labelled pipework showing how it is installed and usedand can be left to its own devices for a month at a time – until its alarm goes off telling you that it’s time you refilled it.

    Costs:

    As Bio-dosers go, the GreasePak is pretty cost effective:

    While a mains-powered GreasePak will set you back just over £530 including VAT, the battery powered GreasePak comes in cheaper at £474 including VAT.

    It is worth remembering, however, that the batteries of the battery powered GreasePak will need to be replaced about once every two years – at £45 a pop. As for the fluid, you can buy a 3-month supply (three 5 litre refills) for just over £130.

    *Prices correct at time of posting.

    The Conclusion:

    Bio-dosers like the GreasePak promise to cut out drain blockages and stop any of the associated stenches from getting into your kitchen. With a GreasePak installed, your drains won’t become blocked.

    On top of this, as GreasePak uses a naturally occurring strain of bacteria, while breaking down the FOG waste your kitchen will produce, the GreasePak does have some environmental credentials.

    However, the GreasePak is not a miracle cure for the fatberg problem. While it can coat the walls of your waste water pipes with an effective mixture of bacteria – your waste water will be flowing too fast for those bacteria to break down all of your FOG waste.

    This isn’t necessarily the fault of GreasePak – it does all it can, and it does it well – but having a single Bio-doser pumping bio-fluids into your drain simply won’t stop your drains spewing FOG waste into the sewers – and it won’t stop you from being held partially responsible if a fatberg forms in a sewer near you.

    If You Want a Bio-Doser – Get a Grease Trap Too

    Bio-Dosers can’t take on fatbergs single-handedly.

    Bio-dosers can still have benefits: breaking down FOGs, they ensure that it takes longer for your grease trap to fill up. This is good for two reasons. Firstly, grease traps become less efficient once they are over 25% full, and so bio-dosers will ensure that your grease trap stays working efficiently for much longer. Secondly, if you dread cleaning out your grease trap every few weeks, a bio-doser helping to break down the FOGs in your drains or in your trap can make clean-up operations less frequent.

    Basically: Bio-dosing keeps your trap working well while saving you labour.

    If the price-tag attached to the GreasePak makes you feel like those returns aren’t worthwhile, there is another option you may be interested in.GreaseBeta GBPump Automatic Dosing Unit

    GreaseBeta

    Cheaper than the GreasePak, this method of beating grease involves investing in an automatic dosing pump such as the GBPump, as well as a bottle of GreaseBeta Liquid Fat Digester Amnite L100.

    While the pump will set you back just under £190 (including VAT), a 100L bottle of the Liquid Fat Digester will set you back just under £120 for a 3 month supply.

    Once you’ve filled up the pump and attached it to your grease trap, it will release up to two daily doses of the Fat Digester into the trap, where it will break down FOGs and slow the rate at which your trap fills up.GBPump fitted next to sink with a grease trap

    As with the GreasePak, GreaseBeta uses bacteria rather than harsh chemicals to break down FOGs – meaning that it too can boast about being more environmentally friendly than other methods of dealing with harmful waste products.

    If your aim is to shave a few pounds off the price of saving yourself from too much dirty work, the GreaseBeta might be the way to go.

    *Prices correct at time of posting.

    Build on the Basics with Bio-Dosing

    Grease traps are and, look set to remain, the main way of combatting the FOG problem. They are simple and they are effective – where Bio-dosing is a little more complicated and, on its own, not nearly as effective.

    Bio-dosing can however form an important part of your grease management practices – and if you find yourself with a little extra to spend, it may be worth splashing out on a GreasePak or a GreaseBeta, if only to make your life a little easier.

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