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October 2019

Fatberg armageddon - a focus on grease traps

Written by Lemay Rogers
Technology and Trends

This is what you’ll get

  1. What is a grease trap?
  2. What do our South African by-laws say about grease traps?
  3. How do I maintain my grease trap?

I recently learnt that the word Fatberg has been added to the Merriam Webster Dictionary. The official Merriam Webster definition reads, “a large mass of fat and solid waste that collects in a sewer system”. It continues by defining a fatberg as follows;

“//The toxic lump of congealed fat and household waste—known as a fatberg—was 40 metres long and so heavy that it broke the 1940s-era sewer.” - Rebecca Ratcliffe

“//Restaurants are a big contributor to fatbergs: Thames Water, the London utilities company, found nine out of 10 fast-food eateries lacked adequate grease traps to stop fat from entering the sewers.” - Eve Watling

When the news broke of a 64-metre fatberg discovery in Devon (UK) in January, I was rather freaked out about the size of it!  I kept wondering how it was possible for such a mass to form in the first place. But looking at the Eve Watling quote above, it actually makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, in spite of legislation, there are many eateries that don’t dispose of their fats, oils, grease and starch (FOGS) in a responsible manner. 

How should eateries do this? By using correctly installed and maintained grease traps.

What is a grease trap?

A grease trap is a plumbing device that is used to catch most grease and solids before they enter a wastewater disposal system. 

What do our South African by-laws say about this?

In a previous blog, Restaurant hygiene challenges we discuss grease traps in detail, but I would like to reference 3 key points regarding the legislation.

It is the kitchen occupier’s responsibility to ensure the proper design and maintenance of their grease trap, and that it is proactively maintained in an effective working order.  If the grease trap is not properly maintained, the occupier may be liable for any damages to the sewer system, have their industrial effluent permit withdrawn and/or have their entire industrial effluent discharge blocked off from the municipal sewer (as per Wastewater By-Law: Ch1 Section 3).”

“The General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food (R.918/1999) corrected by Govt notice No 638 of 22 June 2018 specify that food premises must have a wastewater disposal system approved of by the local authority and that the duties of a person in charge of food premises include ensuring that wastewater on the food premise is disposed of to the satisfaction of the local authority.”

“Western Cape Provincial Wastewater By-Law: 1 Sep 2006. Section 3: Protection of Municipal Sewers states that no person shall discharge, permit to enter or put into any municipal sewer -

  • Any petrol, oil, greases, waxes, fat or pesticides, insecticides or paints
  • Any liquid that has a pH value of less than 5,5 or greater than 12”

How do I maintain my grease trap?

Having a grease trap is only the first step. Regular maintenance of your grease trap is just as important, not only to comply with legislation but also to ensure that accumulated FOGS in your grease trap don’t start to rot and smell.

At Initial we offer a service called biological dosing where a biological enzyme is dispensed into your grease trap system in a metered dose in order to maintain your grease trap. These bio-enzymes are completely environmentally friendly and work by digesting the FOGS that could cause blockages in your drainage system. 

Contact us for more information on Initial’s biological dosing service.

Contact us

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Lemay Rogers

Lemay Rogers

Lémay Rogers is the Marketing Manager for Rentokil Initial's Sub-Saharan Africa region. When not contributing to the Initial blog, she is the custodian of all things Marketing for Rentokil Initial Sub-Saharan Africa. As a frequent traveller AND mother of a pre-schooler, she is all too aware of how easily germs can travel with us, from one location to another and then back to our homes. Follow Lémay on Twitter and LinkedIn for practical advice on good hygiene practices, both at home and in the workplace.

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