Wednesday, 11th October, 2017
Thames Water say London food outlets need to better manage disposal of fat and oil
Thames Water have revealed that a staggering 92% of restaurants, takeaways and other London food establishments surveyed are ‘feeding the fatbergs’ around London. However they were quick to point out that they “were not suggesting anyone intentionally pours the contents of a fat fryer down the drain”, but instead blaming the build-up of the 130 tonne ‘fatberg’ on a lack of adequate grease traps to filter the gunk cleaned from dishes and pans. As well as a lack of adequate information for takeaway owners.
Visits to more than 700 outlets across the capital found almost all were failing to prevent fat, oil, grease and food scraps entering the sewer network, where it congeals with wet wipes and other unflushables to cause blockages.
None of the food outlets visited in Whitechapel Road, home to the biggest ever fatberg still being shovelled and sucked from the sewer, had a working grease trap to filter and capture fat and oil washed down the plughole.
Experienced Thames Water engineers were shocked to discover so few of the food outlets across London – and the Thames Valley – had the right equipment and maintenance plans in place.
Sewer network manager, Stephen Pattenden, said: “We’ve always known food outlets play a huge role in contributing to fatbergs but it was really surprising to find just how few are doing the right thing when it comes to managing fats, oils, greases and food waste from their kitchens.”
A simple, well maintained grease trap will capture that stuff and stop it entering the sewer and turning into a monster fatberg – like the ones found in Whitechapel and Chinatown recently. Sadly, most of the businesses we speak to don’t even know about them.”
Engineers arrive unannounced on the visits to food outlets, which include schools, hospitals and care homes, to look at what’s in place to capture fat, oil, grease and food waste. In most cases, where there is nothing, free advice packs – including posters for display near sinks and drains – are handed out.
Outlets identified as needing improvement are then visited again a few months later, and this continues until they take the necessary fat-trapping action, with the prospect of prosecution if they fail to make the changes and continue to allow fats, oils and greases into the sewer.
Mr Suraj, who runs the Royal Nepalese restaurant in Blackheath, has recently installed a grease trap following a Thames Water visit. He said: “We used to get blockages in the pipe due to fat and this would sometimes give off a bad smell, which isn’t very nice for our customers or staff. Since we’ve changed how we dispose of oil and fat we don’t have this problem, so we’re glad Thames Water visited.”
Thames Water’s Stephen Pattenden added: “We’ve been welcomed with open arms by many food outlets who regularly spend hundreds of pounds clearing internal blockages. They were delighted when our experts told them how to prevent it. We need to help more take action though, plus continue in our bid to get our domestic customers to change bad habits when it comes to disposing of fat and items like wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products. Everyone needs to do their bit in this fight against fatbergs.”