Due to the increased legislative pressure from the government, The Water Services Regulation Authority, more commonly known as Ofwat, are fining water companies due to significant growth in the number of fatbergs in the UK over the past two years.
Given that the country has pledged to lead other countries to tackle environmental destruction, the focus on sustainable waste management practices has become sharper. One of the tools introduced is a penalty for not taking care of accumulated Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOGs).
Commercial catering businesses thus need to invest in grease management to avoid fines from water companies. However, the first step is to precisely understand what FOG is, how it accumulates, and why it is so harmful. Here is a quick introduction to what you need to know:
What are FOGs?
Essentially, they are the byproducts of any cooking process and can accumulate in large quantities when considering the number of meals a commercial establishment cooks every year.
These establishments are expected to separate FOGs into a container for appropriate disposal. However, it is often impossible to prevent some of them from going down the drain, especially when cleaning kitchen equipment and utensils.
The problem arises when there is too much FOG material entering drains. They may not seem like a big deal when melted, but as they solidify in the coolness of the sewers, they form into chunks that resemble solid lard — or even concrete, if they get mixed with items like disposed wet wipes.
The more solid chunks there are in the sewers, the more the drains get clogged up, and the more the water companies need to invest in cleaning up the waterways. In extreme cases, in fact, grease material can block off drains entirely.
Why is FOG such a menace?
Estimates suggest that about 100 tons of fat is poured into drain holes every day in London, from both commercial and household sources.
As mentioned above, it takes a lot of time and effort to clean up waterways with excess FOG material. Water companies, in fact, spend over £15 million on it every year
This, in turn, means hefty fines for catering businesses and higher taxes for everyone.
The problem is compounded because most people do not even know how harmful FOGs can be as pollutants, and thus continue disposing of them down the drain. Let us take a closer look at exactly why grease is so bad for waterways:
1. Fats tend to stick
The fatty material that goes into drains will gradually harden. As this happens, larger waste objects can stick to the fat, which in turn can cause big chunks of fat to break off.
As these chunks float down drains, they can cause blockages in water pipes and affect the sewage machinery. In addition, sticky fats tend to coat pump and sewer walls, leading them to overheat and burn out well before their useful life is at an end.
2. Poor maintenance of grease traps
They are preventative kits used by both households and commercial establishments. These are built on the principle that FOGs float on top of the water and can thus be diverted and captured in the grease trap before entering the drain.
Problems arise when the grease trap is not maintained regularly, leading to the accumulation of FOG material and a restriction of flow, culminating in a blockage.
3. Repairs are expensive
The exact cost of cleaning out pipes and drains clogged with FOG material is hard to quantify. It may often be too difficult to clean, in which case replacing the pipes and drains altogether may be necessary. This can be extremely expensive for both water companies and commercial establishments.
So, what is the solution?
Broadly, it means disposing of fats, greases and oils responsibly, particularly at the business level, where quarts of oil are used on an hourly basis.
These should be strained out as much as possible to avoid their clogging up drains when they solidify. Taking extra care at the point of origin of FOG material — namely, the kitchen — will avoid needless effort and expenditure later for everyone.
It also helps invest in a top-notch grease trap system designed to handle the high FOG volumes of a commercial kitchen. But grease traps are not perfect and now there is a solution to manage the FOG issue, and it is called BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG.
New to the UK market through Waste2ES, this revolutionary product accelerates the biological removal of FOG and sediment food solids. It delivers various bio-catalytic materials degrading contaminants into granular forms until they are removed from the water. Removal means no problems further down the pipes.
BiOWiSH® Aqua FOG is entirely natural and has no detrimental effects on the environment, humans, animals, or plants. Please read all about it here.