Coming together to clear the FOG

Marta Perez, Technical Director of British Water writes:

Every year there are approximately 366,000 sewer blockages in the UK – of which 80% are caused by fats, oils and grease. Around £88 million a year is spent on reactive blockage clearance, with further costs of clean-up after flooding.

Yet despite this growing problem there is a lack of research into the most effective methods of solving or preventing the troubles caused by fats oils and grease – also known as FOG.

Trade organisation British Water believes a lot more needs to be done to combat the problems caused by FOG, which is why we have supported the formation of the Grease Contractors Association. The idea is to bring together those working on the frontline of FOG, and to draw together the expertise of those battling with FOG on a daily basis in commercial and industrial kitchens.

There is no one better placed to understand the real, day-to-day issues of FOG than those in the business of ensuring food outlets and factories dispose of their fats oils and grease safely. The work of the Grease Contractors Association will complement that of the British Water FOG Forum, which was founded in 2010 to focus industry attention on the issue.

The Grease Contractors Association will bring together specifiers, installers and maintainers of grease management systems. The new organisation will be technology agnostic – that is not favouring one type of grease management system over any other. Different levels of membership will be available, depending on the size and scope of the operation. The GCA, which currently has eight members, is chaired by Mike Goodbourn, of GMC Grease Management.

Eventually British Water believes the Association will become the voice of an industry, which is at present under-represented and whose expertise is often undervalued. The first task of the GCA will be to draw up a Code of Practice, which will help raise standards within the industry as well as providing useful and impartial information to industrial and commercial kitchens. The new body aims to work closely with organisations representing the food, restaurant and catering industries.

In the longer term the association will liaise with UK and European legislators, ensuring that the first-hand knowledge gained by contractors working face to face with FOG informs any future regulation. Evidence gathered by the frontline experts of the GCA will also become available to academic experts in the field and can help inform the public information campaigns which are vital to tackling the issue.

FOG is a growing problem. The proliferation and popularity of takeaways, together with a lack of public understanding of fats, oils and grease disposal and combined with the additional pressures on water and sewage networks caused by climate change means dealing with problems caused by FOG is becoming increasingly expensive, both for water and sewage networks and for their customers.

British Water is delighted to have created a new line of defence in the fight against FOG by bringing grease contractors together for the first time. We believe their practical insight, shared knowledge and embedded expertise will prove to be invaluable.

For further technical support, please contact: Marta Perez E: T: +44 (0)20 3567 0950

British Water, Vox Studios Unit V103, 1-45 Durham Street, London SE11 5JH, UK