grease traps

Can grease traps prevent Fatbergs?

Many restaurant owners are facing problems related to grease and being told that if they don’t install a grease interceptor they are likely to contribute to the creation of massive fatbergs in the sewers. Fatbergs occur when wet wipes etc. and grease are allowed to mix in the pipes beneath our cities. If allowed to form a fatberg can cause blockages resulting in damage to piping and overflows or flooding. Reducing the amount of waste, fats and oils that we throw down the drain can help reduce the build-up of Fatbergs. To really start to make an impact into the Fatberg Crisis each commercial restaurant preparing and servicing food needs to install an adequately sized grease trap but can we guarantee an end to Fatbergs if everywhere has a one?

Many cities across the world ensure every commercial kitchen comes with a grease trap but they still face the problem of fatbergs, so why is this the case? The main reason is that grease interceptors are never emptied on time. In a busy restaurant needs to be emptied once a month but they are often not emptied until it is too late, usually when they smell or there is a blockage. This can be months later. As well as not being emptied on time it is often the case that the model is undersized. Many cities in the UK are littered with an undersized grease interceptor. Authorities struggle to grasp what size is needed and take advice from manufacturers who have different opinions. There are standards for grease traps but these are usually misinterpreted or ignored. In some cases manufacturers claim their units to meet standards when this isn’t in fact the case.

The only way to be sure is to introduce a programme whereby all stores are inspected regularly and the size of grease trap checked as well as the cleaning frequency. Such a scheme was introduced in Dublin, Ireland 10 years ago and has helped reduce the number of grease related blockages in the city by 70%. All major water authorities should look at such schemes if they are serious about reducing the amount of Fatbergs in their sewers.