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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Fatbergs and Climate Change

     

    Our societies are currently facing a huge number of problems and our modern way of life is responsible for at least two of them: from the huge existential climate crisis to the relatively obscure fatberg problem plaguing our cities. It can be difficult to see the links between these two, but they are there: let’s take a closer look…

    First up, the basics:

    What’s a Fatberg and What’s Climate Change?

    A fatberg is a solid mass of congealed fats, oils and grease (FOGs) which were once used in cooking. When those FOGs are poured down our drains, one way or another, they cool and combine in our sewers, building up gradually over time into a concrete-like lump which, eventually, blocks the sewer. Fatbergs often catch many other nasties floating past them, from used wet wipes (which help bind the fatbergs together) to the human waste which makes for the fatbergs’ toxic stench. Historically occurring mainly in heavily populated areas, fatbergs have now been found in quieter locations showing the problem is only getting worse.

    Climate change, meanwhile, is a much more familiar issue, happening on a global scale. While the Earth’s climates have changed many times historically, swinging in and out of Ice Ages, what people usually mean when they talk about climate change at the moment is Anthropogenic, human-caused climate change. The industries which prop our society up, from agriculture to fossil fuels, emit greenhouse gases, the most common being carbon dioxide and methane, which build up in our atmosphere. Floating around up there, they allow infrared radiation from the sun to fall onto the Earth’s surface but the greenhouse gases don’t let it leave: the radiation reflects off of the Earth’s surface only to be sent back down once it hits this layer of greenhouse gases. So: the surface of the Earth gets a double heating, and temperatures go up: the globe warms.Sun behind a city landscape

    Where’s the Link Between the Two?

    As the climate crisis deepens, will the fatberg problem only get worse?

    Global warming disturbs weather systems, making weather more erratic: extreme weather events become more and more common until extreme weather becomes the new normal.

    In the UK, one of the biggest impacts of climate change will be increased rainfall and increased risk of flooding: the Committee on Climate Change predicts that, in the next 100 years, the cost of flood damage will more than double, whatever happens, while 1 million more homes will come to be at risk of regular flooding.

    If our sewers continue to be clogged by fatbergs, they’ll be less able to cope with the increase in rainfall: we’ll see more floods and we’ll see more raw sewage directed straight into our waterways, or even, in the worst-case scenario, back up our drains and into our homes. As the climate changes, the largely-invisible fatberg problem will become ever more noticeable.

    It can be trickier to see how the fatberg problem can make climate change worse.

    While those decomposing blocks of FOGs and human waste do emit their share of the greenhouse gas methane, they don’t have much of a direct responsibility for climate change.

    The fatberg problem does, however, contribute to climate change indirectly. In particular: Fatbergs Waste Resources

    There are the cleaning chemicals we use to unblock drains clogged by FOGs: those cleaning chemicals, which we wouldn’t have to use otherwise, are the end product of a long manufacturing process which itself emits a huge amount of CO2.

    Then there’s the energy and resources needed to remove fatbergs: the energy and water for the high-powered jet hoses and the electricity for the lighting which water company workers need to get the job done. Fatberg removal consumes electricity which, more often than not, comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which, again, emits greenhouse gases.

    And then there’s the money which water companies have to spend on removing and treating fatbergs which they could instead have spent on environmental initiatives. If our water companies weren’t so preoccupied fighting these monsters in our sewers, for instance, they might be doing, even more, to make their water treatment facilities more efficient or to foster the wildlife which forms ecosystems in, on and around our waterways.Power station chimneys with smoke

    The Impact of Fatbergs on the Environment Can Be Reduced

    Projects such as the one run by Thames Water and Argent Energy promise to transform fatbergs into biofuel, making up for some of the fuel burnt while extracting the bergs from our sewers.

    It’s still crystal clear however that it would be much better for the environment if there wasn’t a fatberg problem in the first place.

    If FOGs didn’t get into our sewers and become fatbergs, we wouldn’t have to use all of that energy and create all of those unnecessary emissions, and we definitely wouldn’t have to worry about raw sewage bubbling out of our toilets every time there’s a rainstorm.

    Invest in a good quality stainless steel grease trap or automatic grease trap (or Grease Recovery Unit) and stop those FOGs in their tracks: you might just save the world.

  • 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.

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