Written by Andrew Crook published in FFR For many years I have had issues with the drains at my shop, not regularly, but every so often there will be a blockage. My shop is on a parade of shops which are mostly occupied by food premises. In the past, previous owners of some of the takeaways have been caught pouring used cooking oil down the drain so when we have had a blockage, I always put it down to the other operators as the drains run my way. With the Government’s Environment Bill currently ‘ping ponging’ between the House of Lords and the Commons, and Cop26 taking place as I write this, it’s a good time to explore this issue.
Grease Trap Legislation

Fat, Oil & Grease - It can't be me blocking the drains... can it?

Written by Andrew Crook published in FFR For many years I have had issues with the drains at my shop, not regularly, but every so often there will be a blockage. My shop is on a parade of shops which are mostly occupied by food premises. In the past, previous owners of some of the takeaways have been caught pouring used cooking oil down the drain so when we have had a blockage, I always put it down to the other operators as the drains run my way. With the Government’s Environment Bill currently ‘ping ponging’ between the House of Lords and the Commons, and Cop26 taking place as I write this, it’s a good time to explore this issue.

Written by Andrew Crook published in FFR

For many years I have had issues with the drains at my shop, not regularly, but every so often there will be a blockage.  My shop is on a parade of shops which are mostly occupied by food premises.  In the past, previous owners of some of the takeaways have been caught pouring used cooking oil down the drain so when we have had a blockage, I always put it down to the other operators as the drains run my way.  With the Government’s Environment Bill currently ‘ping ponging’ between the House of Lords and the Commons, and Cop26 taking place as I write this, it’s a good time to explore this issue.

Through my work for the NFFF I met with a couple of enforcement officers from Southern Water. They are the most proactive water company and were engaging with industry to explain the problem caused by FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) and the legislation around it.  This really opened my eyes to the fact I may be contributing to the problem, but surely the biggest culprits were my neighbouring businesses.  FOG is estimated to cost water companies between £100M and £200M per year so they are keen to tackle the issue, and legislation does exist to enable them to fine offenders, but they also want to engage in educating the business operators too.

As my own knowledge of FOG expanded, having met a couple of companies who install the machines and attending a couple of meetings hosted by the Grease Contractors Association, I was asked to help put together the FOG super guide as part of the review team. This document promises to be a living document that will be kept up to date with the latest legislation and best practice regarding FOG.  

I decided it was time to have a Grease Removal Unit (GRU) installed in my own shop to see just what impact I was having on the sewer system.  Rather than going for a passive trap I decided to go for a more automated Grease Removal Unit (GRU) which heats the oil on a cycle and skims it off the surface, collecting it in a tank on the front of the unit.  It also catches large particles of food waste that could cause a problem further down the sewage system.  Weighing in at £2800 including the VAT it is not the cheapest option but is certainly robust enough to ensureI am compliant.  I would certainly recommend getting a professional in to assess your needs.

The Results

As I said, I thought I had minimal impact on the sewerage system but how wrong could I be!  I cleared the system first thing on a Friday, and I could not believe the amount of grease collected by Saturday morning, almost 2 litres just from one days’ operation. Granted, this is our busiest evening, but it is still a large amount of oil that would have contributed to a problem further down the system.  I then looked at my operation to see where I could reduce the amount getting into the sink in the first place, so I have introduced a FOG section into my training to encourage employees to pour and drain oil into the waste oil drums or another container in the kitchen to collect it, all to be disposed of correctly in the future.  

The Future

FOG is not an issue that is going way and, just as with any type of waste, there is likely to be a shift in public feeling that will affect any business not operating in an environmentally conscious manner.  Just like seat belts, smoking in pubs and social distancing, the public soon change and can turn on you if you are not doing the right thing.  We need to tackle all ethical and environmental issues head on and show consumers and theGovernment that we can be trusted to make the right choices without legislation.  

I have today attended a seminar in London all about theEnvironment Bill, and with Cop26 all over the news, it is difficult to see a future where waste is acceptable.  If you don’t believe you can make any changes to improve your green credentials then I think you are going to have a shock as we see the shift towards going green.  The NFFF will continue to attend the meetings to ensure we can keep members up to date with the attest legislation and help to find solutions to protect all of our futures.

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