Conference calls for legislation review to keep sewers ‘fat free’

Posted: Tuesday 27th April 2010

A specialist conference organised by Cranfield University to educate wastewater, catering, public health and environmental professionals on the effective management and removal of fats, oils and greases (FOGs) in drainage systems has called for re-formulation of legislation concerning food service establishments disposal of FOG, as existing legislation has been shown to be ineffective in dealing with the problem.

Sponsored by Anglian Water, the conference at Cranfield University campus entitled ‘FOGs build up removal - problems and solutions’, included expert speakers from Purdue University and North Carolina State University in the US.

Fats, oils and greases are responsible for up to 75% of the 200,000 drain blockages throughout the UK every year, while Water UK estimates that about £15 million is spent annually on reactive blockage clearance nationwide, with further costs for clean-up after flooding incidents.

Martin Fairley, a part-time PhD student at Cranfield and director of ACO Building Drainage called for the formation of a trade organisation to help to structure an industry wide coherent approach to the FOG problem.

He said: “It is a very fragmented industry and I believe there is very little science being applied, and therefore much opportunity to develop a far more robust understanding of the issues from which credible solutions will evolve. I use the term ‘trade association’ in a loose way. I am looking to join together opinions of manufacturers with some integrity who would welcome some scientific rigour, with other key stakeholders.

The association, which received water company industry support at the conference, would ideally involve representatives from manufactures, food service and catering equipment suppliers, water utilities and academia.

Steve Kaye, Manager of Innovations, Anglian Water, said: “FOG should be considered a valuable resource. If it can be prevented from entering sewers, it can be used to make biofuel or digested to generate electricity”.

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