Toolkit aims to help foodservice firms get flush on FOG (rather than flushing it away)

Restaurants and the wider foodservice sector must act now to cash in on the potential rewards presented by fats, oils and grease (FOG), rather than face the risk of an expensive prosecution and clean-up operation for blocking the sewers, according to the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and engineering firm Kingspan Water & Energy. The two published a toolkit on 3 October “designed to help operators say goodbye to fatbergs and hello to pay-back on their waste.”

Seven out of ten of the UK’s 366,000 annual sewer blockages are caused by FOG. With an estimated 70% of commercial kitchens having no equipment in place to tackle FOG, urgent action is required.

Following a meeting of representatives from foodservice outlets, water companies, sustainability organisations and biofuel companies in March, which apparently revealed large knowledge gaps, partners the SRA and Kingspan worked together on Grease is the Word: A guide to help foodservice tackle Fat, Oil and Grease. The online resource seemingly provides operators with “everything they need to know about effective FOG management, including legal obligations and key dos and don’ts when it comes to dealing with this sticky issue.”

Grease is the Word spells out three steps every foodservice should take:

  • Assess their current kitchen operation including identifying potential FOG hotspots and ensuring correct equipment fitted
  • Reduce use of fats
  • Carefully manage FOG

Andrew Stephen, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “Foodservice faces a simple choice when it comes to FOG. Businesses can either act responsibly and reap the rewards from recycling this energy rich product, or they can choose to break the law, risk contributing to more fatbergs and face costly enforcement action by the water companies that have to clean up. Our aim with Grease is the Word is to make that decision a no-brainer for all operators, which will mean cash for them, clear sewers for all and a boost to the burgeoning biofuel market.”

A recent report by ACO Building Drainage found that fewer than a third of the UK’s commercial kitchens have equipment to tackle FOG, and only half of these kitchens have effective systems in place.

Earlier this year a Nottingham restaurant was successfully prosecuted by Severn Trent Water for causing a fatberg in the city and ordered to pay £8,400.

David Anderson, Kingspan Service Business Unit Director, says, “There is still too little awareness around the need for individual responsibility and action to ensure FOG is managed at source. Collective action across the industry is now urgently needed. Everyone needs to come together to make changes if we are to succeed in combatting this growing menace.

“FOG has huge potential as an energy-rich source of fuel and can be used as the bio-component for high grade, sustainable diesel for fleet operators. What’s more, it offers an attractive payback for food outlets, in partnership with strategic bio-fuel manufacturers. The government is pushing for a more circular economy, reducing, reusing and recycling our resources for a more sustainable future. All it takes is a simple shift in thinking and we have an opportunity that will lower greenhouse gas emissions, ensure the UK’s future (bio-)energy security, and give a commercial value to FOG disposal.”

Marks & Spencer’s store in Bangor, Northern Ireland reduced its operating costs by more than £2,500 a year through the reduced frequency of pumping out as a result of fitting Kingspan’s Smart Serv Grease System.

Stephen Williams, Network Protection & Enforcement, at Southern Water, welcomed the publication of the toolkit and called on restaurants to act now.

He said: “A huge part of the work we do in helping to reduce fatbergs, and preventing our sewers from becoming blocked, is getting the message out to our customers.

“This includes working closely with restaurants and other businesses, helping them to take positive steps and be more conscientious about what they put down their sinks and loos.

We’re absolutely delighted to back the SRA’s toolkit which raises awareness of the related issues, like our own Unflushables campaign, and hope it helps foodservice providers stay fully informed and our sewers clear.”

Grease is the Word is free for any foodservice operator to download here.