grease traps

Why meet the standard?

Would you fly on a plane that didn’t meet international standards, or drive a car that didn’t pass safety tests? Would you want a microwave oven that the manufacturer never bothered to have tested? Of course, you wouldn’t. Unfortunately, in the grease trap business most grease traps in the UK have never seen the inside of a testing facility, yet some of the biggest restaurant chains ignore the lack of standards and proceed with unapproved products.

The Grease Guardian has been tested under most major international standards for grease traps. By tested we mean sent to an independent agency such as NSF, TUV or UL and checked to see if it passes a pre-determined standard for the chosen flowrate, volume, design etc. of the model selected.

Why is this important? A manufacturer can make whatever claim they like but if a third party is not given the chance to assess the claim, then how can one really be sure they are getting a proper solution. Grease Traps including Grease Removal Units need to be able to trap not just some grease but over 90% if not more of the grease entering the drain everyday for at least a month otherwise they would likely fail a spot inspection. Any box with an inlet, outlet and a couple of baffles will trap grease but will there be enough retention to satisfy local legislation?

To the ordinary onlooker the grease trap may be doing what it is supposed to. They see grease in the tank and, in the case of removal devices, they see grease in the external container. But do they know what percentage of grease has actually been retained? Can they determine whether the effluent quality meets the local standards by simply believing what the manufacturers tell them? Is the performance on day one the same as day 30? Most kitchen staff won’t know whether the grease trap is compliant just by looking at it. They need assurances from the manufacturers that the unit has gone through the proper testing.

So how is it possible manufacturers in some countries don’t have their equipment tested? In the case of the UK the main problem is that the requirements are vague. The building regulations recommend a grease trap that meets the British Standard or “other effective means” of grease management. This leaves the door open for any manufacturer to claim they have an effective means of grease management.

Many manufacturers in the UK argue that these approvals that are based on a European Standard are outdated and not suited for today’s high streets. There is some merit in that argument but there are other standards out there that they could use instead. None are perfect but at least they are an official starting point? The reason they don’t is that they probably can’t actually meet the standards with their current offering. To do so would incur significant costs and redesigns that they don’t want to invest in. Instead, they downplay the need for standards and approvals and the customer doesn’t get too concerned about this at the point of sale.

That’s fine up until a point. In neighbouring Ireland the need for approvals were enforced 15 years ago regarding grease traps and those without grease traps or with grease traps that didn’t meet official standards had to update their grease management systems or face hefty fines.

Many grease traps that aren’t approved are often undersized. This could prove problematic for a store in regards to blockages or disruption to pumping or wastewater equipment as incorrectly designed grease traps may only pick up some of the grease. This also creates issues with local authorities who want to prevent fatbergs and grease related problems but can only do so if the correct equipment is being installed.

In the US all grease trap manufacturers must meet National Standards. A restaurant that installs a unit without ensuring it is approved risks having the trap pulled out when the city inspects the equipment. There are very few manufacturers that would chance supplying unapproved equipment in the US. In Europe if the grease trap you propose does not meet the design spec of the EN standard you can have the product tested to see if it meets the effluent quality outlined in the standard and some authorities will accept this as proof the equipment has a solid performance.

The point is there are many ways for manufacturers to prove their equipment works through independent testing but choose not to for some reason. If you are a customer about to buy a grease trap it is worth requesting from the manufacture their safety and performance approvals.