Clearing the FOG – a Data-Led Approach
Jul 19, 2022
Water utilities have a major challenge working with local food businesses to prevent fats, oils and grease entering the sewer network, but a combined data and marketing approach could be the answer, says Michael O'Dwyer, founder and chief executive, SwiftComply. Fats oils and grease (FOG) in the sewer network are a £90 million a year headache for water utilities in England and Wales. While giant fatbergs get all the press coverage, there are hundreds and thousands of smaller blockages that the water companies are tasked with clearing day-in day-out.
And while larger food production facilities have to comply with environmental trade effluent regulations, unlike in the US and Ireland, no such rules exist for the 500,000 food service establishments (FSEs) in the UK.
In an ideal world, the problem would be solved if every FSE installed a grease-trap. Correctly-sized, well-maintained equipment is the first step to prevention.
Capturing FOG at source and at scale would also provide the opportunity to generate significant biofuel resources, providing a stimulus to circular economy initiatives.
SwiftComply is working closely with UK utilities in combined digital and face-to-face education and engagement programmes. One of the aims is to collate data to better understand the food businesses using the sewerage networks.
Yorkshire Water has partnered with SwiftComply, and with support from City of York Council, to deliver a food service engagement pilot in the York city area to tackle an increase in issues relating to FOG and fatbergs. SwiftComply will engage both digitally and physically with around 1,000 food businesses to assess and improve their onsite FOG management practices.
The project campaign will involve SwiftComply establishing and publishing a website and digital media campaign to engage with food businesses. Further to this, food businesses will be provided with the opportunity to opt into an onsite FOG Risk Audit, carried out by the SwiftComply team. Food businesses will be provided with a report detailing areas they can improve and reduce their FOG Risk, along with support to manage these changes.
Initially, above-ground data on the number of restaurants, their GPS coordinates, cuisine-type and contact details are collected using specially designed cloud-based software. This information can then be expanded by finding out more about onsite FOG management from site visits, telephone interviews and digital questionnaires.
The data builds up a valuable resource for the utilities to tap into, facilitating much more robust decision-making around effective FOG education programmes with local business owners. The FSEs are also provided with digital and paper educational materials promoting best practice kitchen grease management.
This includes washing-up practices such as advice on the dry-wiping of greasy cookware, crockery and equipment; along with guidance on safe storage of waste oil. The rule of thumb being to remove as much oily waste as possible before it comes into contact with water.
Steve Wragg, flood risk manager at City of York Council, says, “As a flood risk officer, I see first-hand what problems fat oil and grease create on our sewer network system. We’re pleased to support this campaign with Yorkshire Water. Anything we can do to highlight the problems this causes, including fatbergs or other environmental damage, is a positive step.”
The historically light regulation of FSEs in the UK means water companies have a greater task in changing food business behaviour than in parts of the world where licensing for their discharges to sewerage exists. A useful step forward would be for water utilities to agree terms for a national standard on best practice in commercial kitchen grease management, so that all businesses are working to the same code.
The regulatory drive for cost efficiency in the water industry should lead to a nationwide utility-led grease prevention initiative, which would carry greater clout than localised schemes. With or without regulatory change, combined technology and marketing approaches like the one being trialled in York are ideally suited to addressing this complex and costly challenge.
More News and Articles
Aug 11, 2022
WPL has been granted a patent for its cutting-edge WPL Hybrid-SAFTM process technology. The patented technology employs a submerged moving-bed, fixed-film reactor which can treat wastewater with greater energy efficiency compared to traditional submerged aerated filters (SAFs), in a tighter …
Aug 11, 2022
Awarded more than £700,000 from the Water Breakthrough Challenge Catalyst Stream, Treatment-to-Tap seeks an industry watershed by supplementing a tech rollout with collaborative data analysis and behavioural science to build trust in tap water.
Aug 10, 2022
Water sector specialist MWH Treatment has been awarded a place on Severn Trent’s AMP7 (regulatory asset management period 2020-25) framework for both design-and-build and build-only water and wastewater treatment projects. The agreement extends an existing 20-year relationship and MWH Treatment …
Aug 09, 2022
For the rehabilitation of a drinking water pipeline in the district of Aalen, 200 km north-east of Munich, Germany, the DENSO Group Germany protects weld seams from corrosion very quickly and efficiently using a new laying method that floats in …
Aug 08, 2022
With construction work being carried out in depths up to 30 metres in the centre of the city famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, an enormous building structure is being realised. When completed, the Chinatown Subway Station will form the …
Aug 05, 2022
Development for the American Biotech company
Aug 04, 2022
The Construction Site Determines the Installation Technology: Light, Steam, Hot Water or Ambient Temperature
Which curing method should ideally be used in the context of rehabilitation projects in building and site drainage? The market for the rehabilitation of building and property drainage is currently developing dynamically. The complexity of construction sites in particular places …
Aug 03, 2022
100 Years Lifetime of Polyethylene Pressure Pipe Systems Buried in the Ground for Water and Natural Gas Supply
TEPPFA and PE100+ Association have identified the need for explaining the difference between the design point at 20 degree/50 years and the expected life-time of PE80 and PE100 pressure pipe systems. Research, extrapolation studies and reports on dig-up pipes in …
Aug 02, 2022
United Utilities is rolling out the biggest “listening” project of its kind in the world in a bid to tackle water leakage. The North West water company is installing around 100,000 ‘acoustic’ loggers over the next two years on its …
Aug 01, 2022
A dense pipeline network spanning over three million kilometers is the global backbone of industry and commerce. To keep supply stable, innovative pipeline companies are constantly expanding the network and making it denser even in sparsely populated places. In the …
Jul 29, 2022
Surface heating and cooling using plastic pipes is being highlighted at the moment as it is helping facilitate a greater uptake of renewable heat sources and is proving highly energy-efficient in our increasingly energy-aware climate.
Jul 27, 2022
Wastewater treatment specialist WPL has won a contract to provide onsite wastewater treatment at a holiday park in Cornwall. The underground installation at Juliots Well in North Cornwall will replace the existing septic tank and includes a WPL HiPAF (high …