Keeping our networks clear – a joint research project to address the slippery FOG issue

Fats, oils and greases (FOG) are never out of the news for long, with fatbergs making the headlines every few months. Read more about our research for UKWIR.

Fats, oils and greases (FOG) are never out of the news for long, with fatbergs making the headlines every few months. Our clients across the world report problems; Queensland Urban Utilities in Australia recently stated that they spend $1.5 million a year clearing over 4000 blockages from its network, many of which are caused by FOG. Within the UK, it is estimated that blockages caused by FOG cost the water industry over £80 million a year. Despite water utilities innovating in their approach to education, FOG is still being disposed of down the sewer. Channel 4’s Fatberg Autopsy back in April highlighted this, and gave a fascinating insight into the cause and contents of the one of London’s largest fatbergs, discovered by Thames Water in the east end of the city.

There is a need for a longer term strategic approach to tackle this problem, and together with Abertay University, Isle completed research for UKWIR on how the UK Water Industry currently approaches the control of FOG, what they can do to improve this, and how they can create opportunities around the collection of FOG. In June, Isle’s Head of Wastewater consulting in the UK, Karyn Georges, gave a presentation at the project’s dissemination workshop. She told the audience how through research and interviews with utilities across the globe, the team was able to gather a wealth of information on different regulatory, enforcement and educational approaches to FOG control. Opportunities in FOG collection and the existing and emerging technologies available were discussed, with steps that the water industry should take highlighted. The key findings of the research included:

· Approaches to regulating discharges of FOG to sewer varied across the globe

· Working with stakeholders such as local councils to enable them to provide information to food service establishments on grease management is important

· Providing consistent and continual education helps drive behavioural change

· Technologies for the collection of FOG from sewers and works inlets should be trialled to determine the business case for developing this area further

This month sees the publication of the UKWIR report and it will be available to purchase from the UKWIR website. A recent UKWIR newsletter also provides an overview of the project and is available here:

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