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How Grease Effects the Environment

In commercial food service environments, grease must be effectively managed and disposed of safely and legally. FOGs (Fats, Oils and Grease) are inevitable by-products of producing hot food, and without the proper means of management, such as a grease trap, your business will not only be breaking several laws but will pose a high risk to the environment and society. Domestic residences, while producing grease on a much smaller scale, also need to properly manage FOGs. 

In this article, we’re going to look at the damaging effects grease can have on the environment and the necessary grease management systems to tackle these issues.  

The negative environmental effects of grease 

So why is grease and oil such a problem? Well, grease is a solid or semisolid lubricant, consisting of soap emulsified with a type of oil – typically mineral oil or vegetable oil. Grease forms fairly easily in establishments such as restaurants when washing up and producing hot food, but grease is also used as lubrication to reduce friction and wear in machinery, vehicles and other applications.  

The FOGs produced in hot food environments will cool down and turn into a solid and these solids will block sewage systems and even septic tanks. Clogs and blockages can become a major problem, and that is why effective management is key. But more on that later. 

Water pollution 

Grease can be taken to rivers, lakes and the sea by the rain off of the streets or industrial sites. This may damage aquatic life and contaminate aquatic habitats. Non-biodegradable greases are the worse for this too. 

Sewer blockages 

When grease is poured down sinks or drains, it can solidify and build up, clogging the sewer systems. This may result in sanitary sewer overflows, which could expose aquatic life and people to health concerns due to the release of untreated wastewater into the environment.  

Soil contamination 

Soil contamination can occur through spills or incorrect grease disposal. This can eventually seep into groundwater in addition to having an adverse effect on the quality of soul and its capacity to support plant life. 

Air pollution 

Certain greases have the potential to produce harmful air pollutants throughout their manufacture and disposal processes, which can lead to a decline in air quality.  

The negative health effects of grease 

As well as the environmental hazards grease causes, it can also have a detrimental effect on human health. Those working in industrial sectors will need to pay close attention to these health risks, as industrial-based grease is more likely to cause these issues. However, it is also important to note that FOGs can also harm those who work around them in commercial kitchens and food processing businesses.  

Ingestion risks 

Consuming contaminated grease can be harmful to one’s health. Grease tainted with hazardous components or heavy metals can be poisonous.  

Respiratory issues 

Inhaling smoke from burning or heated greases, particularly those with dangerous chemicals, can lead to health problems such as lung irritation. 

Skin irritation 

For those who have sensitive skin, coming into direct contact with some greases may result in skin irritation or allergic reactions. 

Potential contamination of drinking water 

As previously mentioned, if grease is spilled or disposed of inappropriately, it can seep into groundwater and contaminate sources of drinking water, leading to detrimental health problems.  

How to dispose of grease properly in your home 

Disposing of grease and FOGs properly in your home is an essential way to avoid damaging your plumbing and local sewage system, and mitigate any negative health effects. Before we look at the tips, here’s some interesting facts for you that will hopefully enforce how important it is to properly dispose of grease in your home.  

Did you know over 3,000 homes in the UK are flooded each year because of FOG blockages? 

In addition to these blockages leading to flooding, the build-up of FOGs can damage wastewater pumping stations and completely disable them. 

Talk about annoying the taxpayer - £90 million is spent on clearing FOG blockages every year across the UK. 

Our sewers aren’t designed to take on grease. The best methods to avoid FOGs going down your drains and entering the sewars include: 

Scrape off any excess scraps of food, grease and fat residue from your plates, pans and utensils into the bin. 

The bin is your friend. This is where all traces of grease and FOGs should go. So, any excess oil, once cooled, can go in old jars, pots, and containers and chucked straight in the rubbish. 

Get a compost bin for any leftover food waste, such as vegetable and fruit peelings, as these can also cause significant blockages and damage to your drains and the sewage system. 

How to manage grease in a commercial kitchen 

Commercial kitchens can conduct the same practices, as domestic households, to help keep as much grease out of the drains as possible. However, some FOGs will inevitably go down the drain along with water due to the amount of food produced and washing up that takes place.  

What is a grease trap? 

Fortunately, there are several effective measures put in place in hot food environments that separate the grease and water. These are known as grease traps – these are devices that kitchen wastewater flows through before entering the sewage system.  

A grease trap is fitted with baffles that are essentially walls inside the kitchen grease trap that slows down the flow of water. The grease rises to the top of the trap, leaving the grease-free water to exit to the sewer.  

There are two distinct types of grease traps: an above ground grease trap, also known as a under sink grease trap, and a below ground grease trap. Each type has different models and systems that can be automated or more manual which require a little more maintenance.  

Other effective grease control measures 

Leaps in technology have allowed for alternative, effective methods of dealing with grease in commercial kitchens. Biological grease treatment uses grease-degrading microorganisms that digest the FOGs after breaking down the molecular chain of FOGs.  

There are also a host of temporary grease management methods that are most suitable for scenarios producing FOGs on a more temporary basis, such as construction sites, food festivals, temporary kitchens and industrial sites. 

All these control methods and more with Aqua Mundus 

The proper, and legally required, grease control methods for commercial kitchens and hot food services are essential to promote a healthy environment, keep sewage systems functioning properly and to ensure the health of members of the public. At Aqua Mundus, we take immense pride in offering the very best grease management products and services, from a wide range of grease traps to grease trap cleaning services, food waste management and free grease trap site surveys. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help your commercial kitchen operation in handling and managing grease safely and properly.  


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