Underground Grease Traps UK - Why are they beneficial?

The first ever grease trap was patented in 1883/4 by Nathaniel T. Whiting and has become a legal requirement in the UK today for any hot food service provider. According to the Water Industry Act 1991, Section 111 it is a criminal offence to throw or permit anything to empty into a public sewer that is going to create a blockage or impede the treatment of the water, water flow or its contents. Other legislation, such as the Environmental Protection Act 1990 means that all waste has to be properly disposed of, and, as the Food Safety Act 1990 states that companies must deal with the build-up or blockage caused by fats, oils and greases (FOGs), otherwise it will mean they fail to comply with food hygiene regulations.

What is a grease trap?

Underground grease traps, or grease interceptors, are an essential part of any food service business’s wastewater management system. These grease traps help to prevent clogs and blockages in the sewerage system caused by FOGs that are deposited down drains when washing dishes or cleaning cooking equipment. The build-up can cause major problems for the entire sewer system as grease and other materials will accumulate over time and form large masses of debris called fatbergs.

Grease traps operate by collecting grease and other solid waste before it enters the sewers. The grease is then held in a container while water passes through, allowing only clean water to be discharged into the local sewer systems. The FOG is then disposed of properly and can even be recycled in some instances. Waste from grease traps can be mixed with sawdust, moss or wood chips and used for composting or can be turned into biodiesel.

How does a grease trap work?

A grease trap is essentially a box into which all wastewater from sinks, pot wash and dishwashers in a hot food providing kitchen empties into. They work on the principle that FOG materials float and other solid particles sink, allowing the baffles to trap these elements so that the remaining wastewater can then flow out into the sewer system to be water treated. Depending on the size of the kitchen and the amount of food being produced daily, and therefore the amount of FOG produced, a kitchen will have one, or several, grease trap units installed, ensuring that between 50% - 90% of FOGs are successfully eliminated. Most traps will need to be cleaned out every 90 days, although depending on how much food is produced by the kitchen and the size of the degreaser, it may be more like every one to two months unless an automatic grease trap is fitted.

What types of grease traps are available?

There are several different types of grease traps:

  • Grease traps, or separators, literally trap FOG within them and allow the cleaner wastewater to pass through into the sewer. They require a professional service to empty and clean them regularly. A grease trap works well for lower volumes of flow, such as is created by smaller cafes and restaurants.
  • Grease Removal Units (GRU) or grease interceptors, are like the standard grease trap, but they remove the food debris and FOG into external units ready for disposal. These are generally required for larger-scaled establishments, such as top restaurant chains and fast-food outlets, which have a higher volume of flow daily.
  • Dosing Systems introduce a biological element into the treatment of FOG which breaks it down into less harmful products.
  • The Goodflo patented G-Bag grease trap which doesn’t require an electrical supply, manual bailing or suction cleaning and features a unique plastic bag or trap with integrated pipework and baffles which can simply be removed and replaced when required.
  • Some systems are manual, or passive, and require regular cleaning out by a professional service, whereas automatic systems are designed to work to remove the FOG on a predetermined schedule.

Grease traps can be located above ground or below, and inside the kitchen or outside the building. Your grease management process will be dependent on what is already installed in your kitchen or the available space for installing new equipment.

What are the benefits?

  1. To start with, the main benefit is that you will be environmentally and legally compliant. As stated above, there are a lot of legalities surrounding this issue, to prevent the build-up of blockages and the environmental impact these can have. Any hot food-producing kitchen that doesn’t have a grease trapping system is liable to hefty fines and lawsuits.
  2. A grease trap for your kitchen will make sure that the public sewerage system next to your company won’t become blocked. A blockage can cause the backing up of wastewater and sewage into your kitchen which is unhygienic and unpleasant and will cause damage as well as downtime, all of which means huge expenses for the business.
  3. Without a grease trap, food waste and FOG can consolidate into a solid mass, or even a fatberg, which becomes difficult or nearly impossible to remove or clean properly, thereby causing wastewater to drain more slowly. So, installing an effective grease management system will prevent this situation.
  4. Bad smells are also caused by poor grease management. The solid food waste particles and FOG breaks down releasing hydrogen sulphur gas which percolates back into the kitchen making an unpleasant environment for staff and customers. The resulting sulphuric acid will also begin to break down the inside of the tank and mean that an expensive replacement is needed. A system that effectively removes food particles and FOG prevents these damaging issues.

Any of the effects listed above - which are likely to result from poor handling of grease and waste management - will ultimately result in downtime for the business as well as large outlays in fixing damage and problems, so the bottom line is that the biggest benefit of an effective grease trap is that it is going to save you money in the long run.

Goodflo has been in the business of installing internal and external grease traps for years across the UK, and has the expertise to advise and install the ideal grease trap for your kitchen, during a time that avoids the highest footfall for your food service business.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help you find the best grease trap system for your commercial kitchen’s requirements.

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