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grease management

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Grease Contractors Association

     

    The FOG problem is huge. Fats, oils and grease (FOGs) are making it down drains across the world and water companies from Baltimore to Brisbane are finding fatbergs forming in their sewers.

    But it seems like no country has been plagued with as many bergs as Britain. With our Victorian sewers struggling to cope with our love of fried fast foods, we are Fatberg central, with the problem costing our utility companies £100 million a year.

    The terrifying scale of the issue calls for co-operation.

    Enter: the Grease Contractors Association (GCA).

    What Is The GCA?

    A not-for-profit alliance of specifiers, installers and maintainers of grease management systems, the Grease Contractors Association is an initiative administered by British Water which has been running for nearly four years.

    The GCA’s membership is split into two groups: the GCA Certified Contractors and the GCA Supporters.

    Certified contractor memberships are available to companies and organisations which specify, supply, install and maintain a range of grease management systems. Once certified by British Water’s Auditors, these contractors are evaluated twice a year to ensure that their practices are still up to scratch.

    Supporter memberships of the GCA are available to all other companies, organisations and stakeholders in the grease management industry. They are contractors, suppliers, researchers and developers, educators, manufacturers, consultants and business-users of grease management products.

    In amongst this second group is us: UK Grease Traps Direct is proud to be one of the Supporter Members of the Grease Contractors Association.

    Why?

    That’s simple.

    The GCA is Forging Unity in the Face of FOGsHands joining in circle

    Bringing specifiers, installers and maintainers together, the GCA provides a platform for its members to collaborate in order to set standards for the grease management industry to follow.

    Pooling their expertise, the 14 and growing members of the GCA, aim to tackle the fatberg problem by:

    • educating consumers on their role in FOG reduction
    • setting out best practice for food businesses
    • assisting in the research and development of new products and services

    And, ultimately, by influencing and advising on legislation and regulation.

    Along the way, as it becomes a forum for grease management experts, the GCA seeks to bring clarity and understanding, credibility and transparency to the grease management industry as a whole.

    As the GCA is proving:

    Together We Can Solve the FOG Problem Once and For All

    Different colour silhouettes of group of people

    The GCA is already making progress educating food businesses to ensure that they know all about the threats posed by fats, oils and grease to our sewers.

    And their auditing system is beginning to make it easier for those food business owners to tell who they can trust as they try to tackle the problem: with certified GCA approval showing them which grease traps to invest in, who they should hire to install them, and who they can rely on to have those traps cleaned out regularly and maintained in good working order.

    The GCA is bringing uniformity to a previously disorganised industry and promises to become a force to be reckoned with in the fight against fatbergs.

    But there is still a long way to go before the GCA can make these sewer-blocking giants a thing of the past.

    First things first, the association has got to grow. So: if you are a grease management contractor and you haven’t already, join the conversation today.

    There’s only one way to end the scourge of bergs in our sewers – we’ve got to work together.

  • A Quick Guide to Grease Trap Grease Disposal

     

    So, you’ve decided to join a community of thousands of food business owners and take on the fatberg problem. You’ve invested in a quality grease trap, weighed up the benefits of buying automatic grease traps versus manual, and had your grease management solution installed. After taking some time to congratulate yourself, you’ve let your GRU do what it does best. Now, as the day you scheduled for your first grease trap clear-out looms, you’re wondering: What next? What do I do after I’ve cracked open the lid, and scooped out the FOGs? Where does it all go then?

    Don’t fret: here’s a guide to getting rid of the grease your trusty grease trap collects.

    Orange circle label with oil drum and droplet

    First:

    Storage

    Once you’ve removed that layer of fats, oils and grease, you’ll need to put those FOGs in some air-tight, leak-proof containers to prevent odours escaping and attracting vermin to your food prep area.

    When full, put those containers somewhere safe where they won’t be knocked over or disturbed – to avoid spillages.

    Keep them away from any drains and definitely don’t put them up high where, if they do leak, they could leak onto something ready-to-eat, or where they could be knocked over too easily. Ideally, put them in an out-of-the-way cupboard at ground level.

    Then, you’ll need to collect up enough waste FOGs to make collection worthwhile.

    To bring collection day closer and to make it more frequent, you may even wish to branch out to other food businesses in your local area, pool your FOG waste together and have it all picked up in one go.

    When you’ve collected enough,

    Dispose of your FOGs professionally 

    Obviously, don’t undo your good work by simply pouring those FOGs right back down the drain: don’t just send your FOG waste into the same grease trap you just got it from and definitely don’t lose hope and flush all your progress down the toilet.

    It’s also a no-go to put it in with your other kitchen waste and you can’t take it to a household waste recycling centre for disposal.

    That’s a lot of no’s… but the law means that, as a food business owner, you’ve got to dispose of your FOGs properly. So:

    Look for an authorised waste carrier who can transport your FOG waste to a licensed waste management site for recovery or safe disposal.

     

    Oil truck

     

    You’ll likely be looking for one of the growing number of companies which are currently offering services which collect your FOGs direct from your door and either take them off to become biofuel or to be composted in a licensed facility.

    Turning FOGs into biofuels is an increasingly popular method of cutting down on FOG waste. Not only is it the go-to for water companies, such as Thames Water, who are turning fatbergs into biofuels in partnership with Argent Energy, it is also a method with government backing as it reduces the use of fossil fuels and thus carbon dioxide emissions.

    There are many businesses which turn FOG waste into biofuels across the UK.

    In the London and the Greater London area alone, there’s Proper Oils for a free collection, Grays Waste Services, or Footprint Fuels. And Londoners have further services within easy reach: in Kent, there’s Hempstead Byproducts and Emil Oil (another free service), in Essex there’s Palmer & Klein, and in Leicester, there’s J&M Oil.

    It’s easy to find a Waste Oil collection business near you: just check online or with your local authority.

    Composting waste oil is a little less common. While the process is pretty simple for your normal food waste – a case of collecting it all together and allowing micro-organisms to break it down -- composting oil can be a little more complex.

    That’s because the micro-organisms which thrive in decomposing oil can be far more harmful than anything which could ever grow on the scraps and cuttings leftover from cooking and eating. This means the companies which specialise in composting waste oil must use sealed units which can guarantee that the waste is kept at a temperature which kills off all the nasties.

    Still, you may be able to find a service in your local area which offers to collect your waste fats, oils and grease and get it composted down.

    Remember that, whichever business and FOG waste collection service you go for, you’ll need to check its credentials with your local regulator: look online or call the SEPA, the Environment Agency, or the Environment and Heritage Service, to ensure that you’re handing your waste products over to a fully licensed operator.

    Then, when you finally get those FOGs off your hands:

    Keep a record of where your waste wentPile of files with papers

    That means you have something to prove that you’re dealing with your FOGs properly if the water companies come knocking.

    You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you’ve got a decent trap installed but you can’t prove that you’ve been using it properly – where you’re facing a fine because you didn’t keep the paperwork.

    It’s Simple!

    FOG waste disposal doesn’t need to be a headache and certainly shouldn’t stop you from investing in a quality automatic grease trap or stainless steel grease trap today. Those fatbergs won’t stop forming all by themselves.

  • Do You Know Your Grease Trap from Your Grease Interceptor?

     

    Whether you’re opening a new restaurant, or just revamping your current one, you’re going to need to install some form of FOG mitigation system. FOGs—or fats, oil and grease—are natural by-products produced during cooking. But if they’re washed down the sink they can congeal and form monster fatbergs which can block whole sewer networks.

    Because of the devastating environmental impact, this can cause, not to mention the extreme expense of simply clearing the blockage and repairing the damage, water companies can fine businesses who haven’t taken the necessary precautions to stop FOG being flushed down their drains.

    Grease Trap or Grease Interceptor – Do You Know the Difference?

    Fortunately, grease management solutions are readily available. You’ve probably already heard of grease traps and grease interceptors, but what’s the difference, how do they work, and which is right for your business?

    Grease traps, either passive stainless steel grease traps or automatic grease traps (or GRU's), are often the first-choice FOG management solution for most kitchen operators. They’ve been around since the 1880s and in principle, the technology hasn’t changed much since then. Basically, a grease trap is a receptacle which wastewater flows through before entering the drainage system. It is designed to “trap” the FOG from the wastewater, allowing only clear water to escape.

    They work on the basis that FOG is 10 to 15% less dense than water and that the two can’t mix. When wastewater enters the trap its flow rate is reduced so that it can cool and separate into three distinct layers. The FOG rises to the top because it’s the least dense and it’s trapped using a series of baffles. Food debris is the densest layer, so it settles at the bottom of the tank, allowing the now clear wastewater to escape through an outlet.

    Grease interceptors work in largely the same way, which is why, frustratingly, the two terms are often used interchangeably. But there are significant differences between the two.Stainless steel tap with water flow

    Flow Rate

    The main difference between a grease trap and a grease interceptor is the flow rate of wastewater they can handle. Grease traps work best with a lower volume of flow—ideally less than 50 gallons per minute. Generally, this covers most foodservice businesses.

    But large-scale establishments with a much higher volume of flow will need to install a grease interceptor. They are designed to operate in high-pressure water environments and can handle extensive grease flows.Large stainless steel grease interceptor and small stainless steel grease trap

    Size

    Grease traps are normally the size of a bread box or a mini-fridge. Although sizing can vary quite dramatically, from anywhere between 10 gallons to 500 gallons. They can be installed inside the kitchen, usually beneath the sink.

    Grease interceptors, with their larger holding capacity, are much larger and typically have a holding capacity of over 500 gallons. Due to their size, they can’t be neatly fitted under the kitchen sink and are instead often installed outside an establishment underground. They work best if they are located near the fixture they serve. However, they can often give off a bad smell so they should be placed far away from any areas that customers frequent.Cleaning in progress sign

    Maintenance

    Grease traps require cleaning more frequently than grease interceptors. That’s because they tend to be smaller sized units which get filled up much more quickly. Ideally, grease traps should be cleaned either monthly by a specialist or daily by your employees.

    As the capacity of grease interceptors is greater, they can gather a larger amount of FOG over a longer period of time. Therefore, they need cleaning less often. Good practice dictates that grease interceptors should be emptied and cleaned at least once every three months. But while grease traps can be cleaned by hand, grease interceptors must be serviced by specialists. Technicians use a large hose to pumps the FOG from the interceptor into a truck equipped with a holding tank.

    Quarter full tank gauge

    The 1/4 Rule

    Although this is generally a good rule of thumb for any cleaning schedule, for more accurate measure businesses that have a grease trap or grease interceptor should use the ¼ rule. The ¼ rule is an internationally recognised standard which provides a good estimate on when to clean on out the grease trap or interceptor.

    It states that once ¼ of the trap has been filled with FOG it should be pumped out. This rule applies regardless of whether a month or three months have passed. That’s because as soon as that much FOG has been trapped, the device no longer operates as effectively and there is an increased risk of blockages and overflows. If over time you notice that your trap or interceptor regularly reaches that ¼ mark in a couple of weeks, consider sizing up.

    It’s also important to note that the frequency of required cleaning can vary depending on the amount of grease produced in the kitchen. For instance, fast-food restaurants produce much more FOG than a predominantly vegetarian restaurant and will, therefore, have to clean their equipment more regularly.

    Whatever your business needs, grease trap or grease interceptor, it’s vital to invest in the right grease management solution. Choosing the perfect fatberg-busting box can dramatically reduce the environmental impact that your wastewater can potentially have on public drainage systems and public watercourses in general.

  • Not All Publicity is Good Publicity

     

    Most businesses have always believed in the old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity. The trick has always been to generate enough publicity—regardless of whether it’s bad or good. And in many cases, it works. Recent research has shown that negative stories attract 172% more news coverage and 178% more social shares than positive stories.

    But the same doesn’t hold true in the foodservice industry. There’s no way of spinning a headline about someone getting food poisoning in your restaurant!   Businesses’ reputations can be irreversibly damaged when it’s the brand’s integrity that is the source of negative publicity.

    The Impact of Fatbergs and Fines

    And with so-called fatbergs becoming a more widely recognised problem, and customers generally being more environmentally aware, it’s not just your food that you should be worried about getting negative reviews. Earlier this year a Nottingham restaurant hit the news after being fined £8,419 for blocking the local sewers with fat, oil and grease (FOG).

    Another restaurant in Shrewsbury was ordered to pay over £9,000 after it put FOG down the drain, causing the sewers to overflow and pollute a nearby watercourse.

    A representative from the water company described both situations as “totally avoidable, and in this case, simply installing a suitable grease trap and making sure it’s maintained could have prevented the situation”.

    Pizza boxes, top one with lid open showing pepperoni pizza

    When FOGs (natural by-products produced during cooking) are suspended in the water they congeal and harden as they cool. By disposing of FOG down the sink or drain, businesses not only face the risk of a fine but also potentially irreversible reputational damage.

    There are approximately 200,000 sewer blockages in the UK every year, of which 75% are caused by FOG. Restaurants, particularly fast-food restaurants, are bearing most of the blame. Research by Thames Water found that if you live with 50 metres of a fast-food place, your chances of being flooded with raw sewage are eight times higher.

    Restaurants who have been fined for blocking the sewers, or even those that are just in the general area of a recently discovered fatberg, are perceived as wasteful, lazy and environmentally abusive.

    What Matters to Potential Customers?

    Recent research has shown that two-thirds of restaurant customers are less likely to choose to eat at restaurants with a poor environmental record. It has also been shown that customers form their opinions on a restaurant’s environmental record predominantly from news sources and social media.

    So, even if a business has improved its environmental record since that last fine, customer perception of that business will already have been formed from the negative things they’ve seen online. They’re unlikely to recognise improved green practices simply because it’s less likely to garner media attention. In other words, the damage will already have been done.

    Happy, neutral and sad face with ticked box next to sad face

    Despite this, it’s estimated that only 20% of the 400,000 commercial kitchens in the UK have any sort of FOG management system in place. Largely this is due to a lack of awareness and because current building regulations don’t mandate the use of a FOG mitigation system. It’s still a commonly held misconception that water companies will pay to repair the blocked sewers themselves!

    But with increased media awareness about how fatbergs form, we are seeing water companies coming down much harder on sites that don’t have effective grease management systems in place. And while there is no law stating explicitly that foodservice establishments need to fit a grease management system, there is legislation in place making them responsible if a sewer is blocked due to discharge from their establishment.

    Businesses responsible for discharging FOG into the sewer system can easily be tracked down, and as well as fines and negative media coverage, they could also face substantial charges for cleaning and repairing the environmental damage. In the water companies’ opinion, there’s simply no excuse for discharging FOG anymore.

    It’s the type of thing which could linger over your businesses forever. You spend years and years trying to reverse the reputational damage or hire a specialist PR firm, but the easiest and most cost-effective solution is to not let it become a problem in the first place.

    Automatic grease traps are the ideal solution for filtering FOG from your business’ wastewater before it can enter the sewer system—ensuring your reputation remains spotless.

  • To Flush or Not to Flush

     

    For decades, the toilet has been one of the safest and efficient ways to dispose of waste matter. With time, waste matter from our bodily functions stopped being the only thing we flushed down toilets. Currently, we are more likely to flush other offensive and unimportant items down our toilets because it is fast and efficient.

    This also includes products which we are quite unsure of how to get rid of. A good example is wet wipes and sanitary pads. For years people have believed that products such as wet wipes and sanitary products are ok to flush. Some of the products even came with packaging indicating that it was okay to do so.

    This has led us to blindly flushing them down into the sewer with no thought as to where they go and what happens to them after. Now we know!

    toilet cubicles

    The Effects of Flushing

    What we flush has been building up unobserved, resulting in massive fatbergs that are only just rearing their ugly heads and causing issues that are affecting our lives above ground. A report in 2019 indicated that wet wipes cause 90% of blockages in the UK.

    These blockages and back-ups are over-spilling and churning out into public water systems with more than 20,000 wet wipes appearing on the shores of the River Thames in a 2-hour cleanup process. One particular reason for this is that most of the UK use a 29th century sewage system. It is smaller and can hardly cater to the increased demand caused by the increasing population.

    While wet wipes are meant to perform some of the tasks that can be carried out using toilet paper, they are not tissue paper. Wet wipes are made using chemicals and resins which prevent them from easily tearing apart when you use them. Additionally, they are meant to remain wet to prevent them from disintegrating when in contact with water, unlike tissue paper.

    This makes it easy for them to get caught in the sewage systems which contribute to the formation of fatbergs. When they do eventually break down, the chemicals used to make up the plastics get into the environment.

    The wet wipes also contain synthetic fibres like polyester and polyethylene which have been found to affect other organisms such as wildlife. Animals found to ingest such pollution in the form of microplastics have experienced blood poisoning, hormone imbalance and have had issues with their reproduction.

    Their testing, especially the European standards of testing also only factored their ability to get flushed down the toilet without causing household blockages. However, wet wipes also need to be biodegradable. This allows the wet wipes to break down in the sewer system.

    Measures Taken to Address Flushing of Wet Wipes

    The issue surrounding wet wipes has been massively discussed in the media. This saw the creation of the ‘fine to flush’ campaign.

    The main objective of the campaign is to not only educate the public and give them peace of mind that they’re not contributing to the problem but also to salvage the reputations of companies that for years have been saying it is fine to flush their products.

    What is the Fine to Flush campaign?

    The Fine to Flush campaign was solely created to address wet wipes and their contribution to fatbergs. It allows the creation of an official standard that identifies which wet wipes are actually fine to flush without causing adverse effects to the environment.

    Wet wipes must undergo strict testing to receive certification. One requirement is that they must break down quickly enough so as not to cause blockages in the drainage systems. They also must not contain harmful chemicals which will affect the environment. Under the rules of the Fine to Flush campaign, manufacturers must have their products tested to determine whether they meet the required standards.

    Fortunately, some brands in the UK have taken the initiative to produce flushable wet wipes that have no adverse effect on the environment. For example, Natracare is the first UK brand to carry the symbol claiming to be ‘truly flushable’ and is 100% plastic-free.

    On the Safe Side

    Everyone is busy educating about FOG, with commercial kitchens understanding the implications of poor grease management and the importance of investing in, installing, maintaining and cleaning grease traps.

    However, these are not the only contributors to fatbergs in the UK’s sewer system. The efforts to ensure that commercial kitchen owners act responsibly won’t protect against wet wipes. In order to tackle all areas of fatberg contributors, measures need to be taken in order to combat the whole problem head-on.toilet paper

    One of the safest ways to prevent fatbergs is still to remember the 3 P’s rule. Only flush pee, poo and paper. In instances where wet wipes need to be used, or if you’re thinking of putting something down the toilet, be sure to look out for the ‘fine to flush’ logo.

    Wet Wipes are Our Responsibility

    Wet wipes are an incredibly important (and convenient) part of our lives. They are compact and easily portable allowing us to carry them everywhere. They help us maintain hygiene standards without the stress of looking for or having to carry water. However, we need to be responsible in regards to the kind of wet wipes we use and how we dispose of them lest they create an even bigger problem to the environment in the future.

  • What Size Grease Trap Do I Need?

     

    Grease traps are an important addition to any commercial kitchen. Their work in limiting the amount of harmful waste that ends up in the drainage systems and consequently the environment can never be overstated.

    Every year, millions of litres of wastewater get dumped into the drainage system in the UK alone from activities carried out in commercial kitchens. On the same thread, water companies spend millions clearing blockages caused by fatbergs which are as a direct result from the FOG introduced by this wastewater from the commercial kitchen.

    To prevent this from happening, authorities have introduced laws, regulations and guidelines that involve the usage of grease traps in any commercial establishment serving food. While this isn’t compulsory at present in England, it is strongly advised and will likely become a legal requirement (as it is in Scotland) very soon. You could pay hefty fines for failure to use the appropriate grease traps as directed by your local authorities.

    Given the importance of a grease trap to your business and the environment at large, it is important for you, as a commercial kitchen owner, to understand what kind of grease trap you need and the appropriate size for maximum effect.Water in a sink

    Picking the Right Size

    Grease traps do not come in one universal size, the same way, not all commercial food establishment are equal. Therefore, you need to understand what size of the grease trap is most ideal for you.

    The work of the grease trap is to slow down wastewater coming from the outlet of the sink of dishwasher long enough for it to cool down. The grease can then separate from the water before the water flows out.

    Picking a smaller or bigger grease trap could cause overflows or back-ups in your drainage systems. Both of these outcomes are bound to create a mess you do not want to have to handle in your commercial kitchen. The kitchen would need to be shut down for deep cleaning, resulting in unexpected down-time and loss of profit. It might also lead to the FOG being released into the drainage system thus rendering the grease trap ineffective and your business at risk of prosecution.

    The grease traps you will be using are sized according to the rate of water flowing in gallons per minute (GPM). This flow will further be determined by the number of sink outlets and applicable equipment such as glasswasher and dishwashers in your commercial kitchen. Therefore, the more flow of water you have the bigger your grease trap should be.

    This is then calculated against the grease trap’s capacity to determine how much waste it can handle at any particular time. Here are some of the calculations you will have to do for your grease traps.Calculator

    Pot Washing Sinks

    To calculate the flow rate;

    • First, start by multiplying the length by the width and depth of your sink in inches. This gives you the capacity of the sink in cubic inches.
    • Then convert these cubic inches to gallons per minute in order to get the flow rate. You will do this by dividing the cubic inches by 231.
    • Adjust for displacement i.e. the actual capacity of the sink that you will be using, by multiplying it by 0.75.

    Your math should look like this

    L x W x D to give you X as the capacity of the sink then X/231 to give you Y as the flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM). Then Y multiplied by 0.75 to give you the size of the grease trap you will need for your commercial kitchen.

    In the event you are using multiple sinks in your establishment and one grease trap;

    • Calculate the flow rate for each individual sink
    • Take 100% of the largest flow rate, 50% of the second largest and 25% of the rest and add them together.
    • The flow rate you get is what’s recommended for that particular grease trap.

    Stainless steel grease trap

    Dishwashing machines

    Normally, authorities require that dishwashers have individual grease traps. They are different from conventional sinks since their capacity is clearly indicated.

    • For machines with a 10-15 gallons capacity, use a grease trap that can handle at 15 pounds or higher.
    • 20 to 30 gallons require a grease trap that can handle at least 20 pounds.

    You do not have to carry out all these calculations for your grease traps alone. You could simply seek advice from a reputable grease trap supplier or from the local water company who will carry out a site visit and advise on the appropriate grease trap, including advising you on other factors such as the cost-effectiveness of the items.

  • The Number 1 Thing People Don’t Consider When Starting A Food Business

     

    You’re there: you’ve bought your ingredients, your ware washers and your deep fat fryers, you’ve rented your premises and, after an intense brainstorm, you’ve come up with a great name and a fantastic strategy to attract punters to your brand-new food business.

    But, if you haven’t factored one thing in, your gloriously constructed plan might be fatally flawed.

    What is the one thing people don’t consider when starting up a food business?

    Fatbergs

    Dirty dinner plate

    The scourge of our sewers, fatbergs build up slowly from an accumulation of Fats, Oils and Grease (FOGs). These FOGs come from our kitchens: from the residue on plates, which gets washed down the drain while we wash up, to the used oil which is improperly disposed of because no-one knows what to do with it.

    Once in the sewers, the FOGs solidify into masses which catch all sorts of gory details, from wet wipes to faecal matter, and block the sewer – making it more likely that raw sewage will end up spewing straight out into our waterways.

    And that’s not all. On top of the environmental cost of fatbergs, there’s a financial side, too.

    Not only does it cost water companies a huge amount of money to remove fatbergs from sewers, but they also face fines when they don’t work hard enough to prevent the associated Gold pound signspill of raw sewage into rivers and streams.

    Those fines have been stepped up in recent years: back in 2017, Thames Water was fined a gargantuan £20.3 million by the Environmental Agency after a huge leak of 1.4 billion litres of raw sewage into the Thames and its tributaries.

    And that stepping up means there’s also been a stepping up of the fines which water companies, in turn, have been handing out to businesses deemed to be responsible for fatbergs. Just a couple of weeks ago, Thames Water fined the Chinese food company Hypergood Ltd, which trades under the name Royal Gourmet, a record £420,000 for allowing FOGs to enter the sewers.

    The fatberg problem is getting serious and water companies are getting serious about it, and that means that food business owners new and old need to get on the right side of the fight before they and the environment pay a hefty penalty.

    How do you solve the fatberg problem? 

    Get Clued Up and Get A Grease Trap

    If you are new to the issue, firstly you need to find out more about fatbergs and their effects on the environment. Then, decide on the right grease trap and what size grease trap you need, get it installed and learn to keep it clean and working efficiently. This will start your business on the right path to begin your fatberg free journey.

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