Fatbergs: Proper disposal of fat, oil & grease

A recent news story caught our attention which highlights the need to ensure proper kitchen waste is disposed of correctly.

In the coastal town of Devon, a 64-metre mass of hardened fat, oil and wet wipes has been found in the sewers. Known as a fatberg (similar to the one found under London in 2018) this mass of waste is longer than six double-decker buses and is expected to take 8 weeks to clear.

The number of blockages and pollution incidents relating to fat, oil and grease are increasing with approximately 200,00 sewer blockages in the UK each year of which up to 75% are caused by fat, oil and grease. Not only do clearing blockages cost million each year, but they can also cause pollution in streams, rivers and the seas.

Commercial kitchen's contribution to fatbergs

With a shift in eating habits, people eat out more frequently than previously. With the number of food outlets increasing there is subsequently a rise in waste grease, oil and fat from the cooking process which if not disposed of properly can contribute to blockages.

These waste types in their original liquid form do not seem a threat but as they cool and congeals, they harden and become stuck to the inside walls of sewers and drainage pipes.

We’ve put together some key points to advise catering establishments on the need to keep fat, oil and grease out of drains and sewers.

Handling commercial kitchen waste fat, oil & grease

Staff Training

Training must be given to all staff highlighting why it is important to keep fats, oils, grease and food waste out of the drains and sewers. It should highlight that failing to follow the guidelines can lead to expensive costs to unblock drains and clean up the area. Bad staff practice can result in public health risks, potential prosecution and negative publicity.

Plate Scraping

Preparation before washing

Tableware; especially dinner plates, trays and utensils should always be scraped clear of leftover food and dry wiped before putting them in a sink or dishwasher. All sinks should feature a strainer for placing in the plug hole to filter out waste food and preventing it from going down the drain. Ensure your regularly clean out the food trapped in the strainer and place it in the food waste bins.

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Sink Strainer

Installing a Grease Trap

Grease traps are units which are installed in drain pipes to separate the fat, oil and grease from the rest of the wastewater. The water continues to flow to the sewage works for treatment while the grease is separated and stored in the trap These units can be highly effective if they are correctly installed, serviced and properly maintained. Most catering equipment that utilises the use of cooking oil; such as fryers have a similar application, where in built grease and oil traps allow the waste products to be drained off without entering the water drainage system.

Grease Traps

Enzyme Dosing systems

Enzymes are used to break down the fats, oils and greases in the drainage system. These Enzyme dosing systems work hand in hand with grease traps and can be combined to filter the waste from the water. The dosing systems can be effective where properly applied, however keeping fat, oil and grease out of drains in the first place through proper waste management and staff training should make them obsolete.

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Bio enzyme dosing