Why Installing Grease Traps is Essential for Chinese Restaurants & Takeaways

Own a Chinese restaurant or takeaway? Worried about grease from your kitchen causing blockages in the main water system? Installing a grease trap is essential! This blog discusses why every kitchen needs a suitable grease management solution to comply with regulations.

Chinese Restaurants & Takeaways & FOG  

Chinese restaurants and takeaways have a special challenge when it comes to FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease). Their use of oil and the grease that is produced during cooking causes a higher accumulation of FOG in kitchen drains. So, installing grease traps is vital for them.

FOG is a by-product of cooking with oil and grease. When these are washed down the drain, they solidify and build up. This is especially bad in Chinese restaurants where stir-frying, deep-frying, and wok cooking are common, and all at high heat. Not only do clogged drains cause bad smells, but also potential health risks and contribute heavily to blockages in mains drainage systems.

By installing grease traps, Chinese restaurants can stop FOG entering public drains. The trap slows the flow of water to allow the FOG to separate. It captures the FOG by either floating as a surface layer on top of waste water in a manual grease trap or heating the water to keep the FOG fluid before syphoning into a separate grease collection container in the case of automatic grease traps. The filtered water continues down the drain into the main system.

Grease traps help food service and catering businesses comply with laws and legislation, as well as environmental regulations regarding FOG disposal. Local authorities have strict rules to prevent FOG polluting water bodies that businesses must adhere to.

An example that shows the importance of managing FOG in Chinese restaurants is "The Great London Fatberg." In 2017, a massive mass of fats, oils, grease, wet wipes, sanitary products, and other debris was found in London's sewers. This was due to incorrect waste being flushed down toilets and swilled down sinks in both commercial and domestic properties and FOG, mainly from restaurants, not being disposed of properly. It took months to remove the fatberg to free up sewer systems and repair the damage that the blockage had caused to pipework.

Why Are Water Authorities Clamping Down on Businesses?  

Water officials are cracking down on businesses to ensure proper wastewater management, to alleviate pressure on public drainage pipes and to minimise environmental impact. Chinese restaurants and takeaways have been focused on because of their heavy use of oils and fats in their cooking processes which can make huge blockages in the sewage system.

Grease traps act as a barrier. They capture oils and fats before they enter the sewage system. Restaurants and takeaways can stop grease from causing blockages and destroying infrastructure by installing effective grease management systems. It saves water officials money in maintenance and helps keep an environment that's healthy for everyone.

Grease build-up in pipes can cause clogs and backups. It is expensive for water authorities to remedy the repercussions. To avoid this, they are clamping down on adherence to strict rules and carrying out more inspections of kitchens to make sure that businesses are correctly dealing with grease management. This ensures businesses have the correct size grease traps installed and are conforming to regulations.

Not following these regulations can bring big fines for businesses as seen when a pub chain was fined £90k for its contribution to fatbergs in 2021. Water authorities watch places closely to make sure they obey. So, it's important for Chinese restaurants and takeaways to install grease traps preferably before the water authorities have even sent a letter or attended the site. When correspondence has been received by businesses, it is vital that this is acted on as quickly as possible, with an appropriate solution to avoid financial repercussions.   

What Size Grease Trap Should A Chinese Restaurant or Takeaway Install?  

It's imperative that grease traps installed in Chinese restaurants and takeaways are the right size. What to consider? The amount of cooking oil used daily, the number of dishes cooked, and the kitchen layout.

Chinese cuisine often uses a lot of oil and, as a result, fats and grease are typically generated on a large scale. Although different water authorities may vary in their requirements for grease trap size, the common factor is that most will advise that larger grease traps be installed to ensure they are capable of dealing with the level of FOG presently and in the future.

The number of dishes cooked also matters. The more dishes that are cooked in oil, and the more fats and grease that are produced, the bigger the grease trap needs to be. It must handle the FOG production in a busy restaurant or takeaway without resulting in issues or clogging.

Kitchen layout is important too. A kitchen with multiple cooking stations may require a larger grease trap to capture oil from each area or alternatively have multiple smaller traps at different work stations. Plan ahead and assess individual needs to ensure proper grease trap sizing and installation.

Many water authorities are specifying that Chinese takeaways and restaurants should install a 400 litre passive or manual grease trap as standard depending on the size of the wok cooker. This is quite a large piece of kit and many kitchens would be unable to fit it into existing layouts. Alternatively authorities may agree that an automatic grease trap or GRU may be suitable if there is enough clearance height to install and maintain the trap. Although automatic GRU's (Grease Removal Units) have historically been expensive, there are now affordable alternatives on the market from brands such as Goslyn.

Before purchasing a grease trap for any kitchen we recommend always working with a reputable supplier that can carry out a site survey to assess the requirements of individual businesses and recommend the most appropriate grease management solution. Additionally, work with your local water authority. Ask them for advice and check that your proposed grease trap meets regulations before you invest. Water authorities are not 'out to get' businesses, preferring to educate and work with them to ensure compliance rather than issue fines. Unfortunately, repeated non-compliance or simply ignoring water authority requests to install suitable grease traps means that monetary fines are sometimes the only solution.

Top Tip: Regular grease trap cleaning and maintenance is vital. A full grease trap cannot function and is therefore redundant. Read more about Grease Trap Cleaning & Tips for Grease Management.

Obstacles That Restaurants & Takeaways Face  

Restaurants and takeaways often find themselves up against obstacles that can hinder their success. Waste management is essential, especially for Chinese restaurants and takeaways that deal with lots of cooking oil and grease. Without a viable grease management system, these places can end up with clogged pipes, bad smells, and even health code violations.

Many kitchens will install grease traps beneath sinks as this is typically the last port of call between cookware being rinsed and water containing FOG entering the main drainage system. Chinese kitchens, however, will typically use wok cookers. This equipment is a massive contributor to FOG and so installing a grease trap specifically designed to service these units is extremely beneficial. In fact this is an area that water authorities are addressing; any wok cooker should have a suitable grease trap installed. Wok cookers will typically have less height beneath them than kitchen sinks and so a standard GRU or passive grease trap will generally be unsuitable. Goslyn offers an affordable solution and what's more they also have a GOSLOC20 low level automatic grease trap that is perfect for use with wok cookers. Find out more in Accessible Grease Management for All Catering Equipment - Goslyn Low Level Grease Traps.

Many Chinese takeaways and restaurants have already demonstrated their commitment to fighting FOG, as has been acknowledged by Severn Trent water. Every commercial kitchen should have a suitable grease trap installed regardless of how stringent grease management practices are within the business. This is especially essential for restaurants and takeaways that use high quantities of oil and produce excessive FOG, such as kitchens cooking Chinese food and fish and chip shops. 

Work with your water provider to ensure that your kitchen complies with legislation and is also doing its bit to protect the environment.