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grease management systems

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

     

    The FOG problem still looms large. Fats, oils and grease (FOGs) are still making their way down our drains and into our sewers where they clump together and form fatbergs over time.

    Water companies are still footing the bill for removing most of those bergs, as they focus on spreading awareness about the FOG problem – giving food businesses the benefit of the doubt while gently encouraging better practice.

    But it won’t be long before their focus shifts. We’ve seen food businesses fined thousands of pounds for poor grease management practices, and we could see many more financial penalties handed out to unwary businesses in the coming years.

    Ignoring the fatberg problem is bad for business – and getting a good quality grease trap installed is an investment worth making.

    Would You Pay £2600 to Save £8k?

    But, with so many to choose from, where do you start?

    Let’s begin with the basics.

    There are two types of GRU to consider.

    The Manual Grease Trap

    Image 1:Stainless steel manual grease trap exterior. Image 2: Stainless steel manual grease trap interior with solids filter. Image 1:Stainless steel manual grease trap exterior. Image 2: Stainless steel manual grease trap interior with solids filter.

    Also known as Passive traps, Manual stainless steel grease traps have no moving parts and don’t need electricity to run.

    Tucked into a corner of your kitchen beneath sinks or concealed beneath a drain cover as an underground grease trap, manual traps live in a gap in your drainage pipe, between your sinks and appliances and the sewer outside, intercepting the flow of wastewater out of your kitchen.

    They slow the flow, allow the wastewater to cool and separate into three layers: FOG, solids and clear water.

    While clear water escapes through the filter into the outlet, the solids sink to the bottom of the trap while the FOG forms a layer up top.

    As the FOG and solids collect, you’ll need to clean your manual trap out – ideally before it reaches 25% capacity and certainly before the FOG and solid waste begins to decompose and give off that infamous smell.

    Many food businesses opt to employ professionals to pump their traps on a regular basis, though some do the cleaning themselves: scooping out the FOGs and solid sediment before pumping out the water and washing the trap with a healthy dose of disinfectant.

    If this DIY cleaning operation seems like a tall order but you don’t want to pay for professionals to do it for you, investing in an automatic grease trap.

    The Automatic Grease Trap

    Image 1: GreaseMaster GM50 Automatic Grease Recovery Unit exterior. Image 2: How the GM50 works. Image 1: GreaseMaster GM50 Automatic Grease Recovery Unit exterior. Image 2: How the GM50 works.

    Automatic grease traps or automatic grease interceptors (AGI's) may be the answer. 

    Like manual traps, automatic traps sit in the midst of your drainage pipe, intercepting the flow of wastewater from your appliances and sinks into the sewers outside. Like manual traps, they slow the flow of wastewater and allow it to cool and separate out into layers.

    But, automatic traps go one step further to make the clean-up process easier. An external strainer catches most of the solid waste into a collection bin while the automatic system works on a programmed schedule to re-heat the FOG waste in the trap so that it can be skimmed out into another collector bin, for easy removal and recycling.

    These benefits do come with some cost, however: not only are automatic traps more expensive, but they also require electricity (which costs a little extra money) and you’ll need to give them at least 10 minutes of TLC every day, emptying and washing out those waste collection bins.

    If this doesn’t sound like too much to ask your staff to do, an automatic trap may be for you – but, before you dig deep into those pockets, you’ll need to figure out the following:

    What Size Do You Need?Blackboard with geometry

    When it comes to grease traps, size matters – particularly for the efficiency of the GRU.

    Larger traps are more pricey but go too cheap and small and your trap will fill up too fast – and, once they are over a quarter full they become very inefficient very quickly. A full trap is the same as no trap at all.

    To help you choose, figure out your wastewater flow rate in gallons per minute (gpm) – this can be done based on the diameter of your waste pipe - and, if you need to, feel free to ask your supplier for advice. Read more about What Size Grease Trap Do I Need?

    Then, think…

    How Much Are You Willing To Spend?

    Cleaning out a manual trap on your own can be the most cost-effective method of combatting the FOG problem. But, without even mentioning the potential health-risks, the job itself is one which most people dread and put off.

    If this is likely to happen, it’s also likely that your trap will spend a lot of its time being full and ineffective, while doing nothing to prevent a fine coming your way.

    So, before you go too cheap, think about the alternatives: if you want to make the DIY clean-up operation easier, paying a little more to begin with by investing in an automatic trap may be for you; if, on the other hand, the idea of handling the gunk that comes out of your drains is unappealing, you may want to look into professional pumping.

    Then there’s the question of Quality. Always choose a durable stainless steel trap over one with breakable plastic parts, and always check out multiple reliable reviews before you decide which particular trap to trust.

    This Christmas, be sure to treat yourself to the GRU which is right for you.

  • FOG, Grease Traps and the Law

     

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

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

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

    One such law pertains to FOG and Grease Traps.

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

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

    People working in a commercial kitchen

    Grease Management Systems

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

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

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

    Laws and Legislation on Grease Management

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

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

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

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

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

    Grease Management Practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Dry Clean-up

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

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

    Do not pour any grease and oils down the drain.

    Dirty dishes

    Prevent Spills

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

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

    Proper Management of Grease Management Equipment

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

    Recycling

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

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

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

    Cooking oil being poured into a bowl

    Use the Right Dishwashing Practices

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

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

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

    Mind sewer drains

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

    Proper Grease Management is good for you

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

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

     

     

     

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