Most municipal fats, oils and grease (FOG) programs focus solely on commercial (restaurants) and industrial (food production factories) grease producing facilities. But think about how many meals are cooked in each home, apartment building or high rise. At the end of the day we are talking about a lot of fats, oils, and grease and the potential for a grease blockage within the public sewer system. All of which enters the sewer collection system with virtually no pretreatment in the form of grease control devices.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the municipal lift stations in effect become grease traps for residential areas. The risk behind that is that lift stations aren’t meant to capture and hold grease, and most sanitary sewer overflows occur at lift stations. FOG causes pumps to fail, floats to fail, the backup to the backup to fail, and then we are fertilizing area lawns with toilet paper and grease. Nobody has any fun on that day.
Most people don’t realize what fats, oils and grease does to the public sewer system, or have even heard the term fatberg.
To them the sewer is a deep dark cavernous space where monsters lurk, instead of a sophisticated network of pipes and pumps that if corrupted and blocked will cause them to lose the ability to flush their toilets. Put their sewer fears to rest and educate them on what grease does, what is a grease blockage and how it effects the environment, and most importantly their flushing freedoms.
While achieving goals of the FOG Management Program is important, it is in the city’s best interest to keep residents and businesses affected by the program encouraged and willing to participate. Educating the public about grease and the consequences of releasing it into the sewers can make people change their mindset and helps in adopting new kitchen management practices.
Door hangers, mailers and public awareness events can all contribute to educate the public on fats, oils, and grease. Out of the box thinking is another option. For example, a water authority in London, England called Anglian Water sees the equivalent of eight Olympic sized swimming pools full of fat make its way into sewers each year. Nicknamed “Fatbergs” for their enormous size, these huge grease blockages started causing havoc in the Land of Hope and Glory. Anglian soon realized that some of the hardest impacted sewers were in dense residential areas in and around London.
While already campaigning their message of keeping FOG out of the Queen’s sewers for a few years, via door hangers, posters, and brochures, Anglian decided to market to a parent’s emotions. What they did was put together a small FOG educational team of two people. This team visited every school around London and several townships surrounding the city. While visiting these schools they taught children about that gross smelly grease stuff, and how it hurts the sewers and more importantly the environment. Little Johnny then proceeded to go home and preach his environmental message to his parents.
What’s going to stop a mother or father from pouring a pan of bacon grease down the drain, more than cute little Sally telling them it will hurt nature and then proceeding to show them the proper way to handle bacon grease. Especially the cooling it down part first. Children are so smart.
Point is this… what did Anglian do? They got their message out, using out of the box thinking. To sum it up, it worked. Over the next few years they saw huge reductions in maintenance costs and SSOs, which, in some of those areas used to be as common as the changing of the Queen’s guards.