Olympic swimming pool of fats, Oils and Greases diverted from North West Sewers

07 Jun 2024

2.5 million litres of cooking fats and oils which is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool have been saved from being washed down the drains of thousands of food service establishments like fish and chip shops, cafes, takeaways and catering kitchens across the North West.

United Utilities have marked the milestone at the poolside at Manchester Aquatic Centre to illustrate the scale of the potential risk that has been diverted.  

Around 9% of all blockages in the North West area is caused by cooking fats, oils, and grease (FOG). The build-up of FOG causes bad smells, blocked sewers and burst pipes, and can lead to homes, businesses and the environment being flooded with sewage.

Across Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cumbria and Cheshire, United Utilities representatives have worked with over 4125 food businesses including restaurants, cafes, hotels, fast food outlets, academic institutions, supermarkets, and nursing homes to carry out inspections and to provide advice and guidance on better working practices and grease disposal to reduce sewage spills and support cleaner rivers.

Staff were given advice on best practice and the installation of grease traps, which stop FOG from going into the sewers and causing fatbergs, congealed masses of cooking fats and oils and flushed bathroom products such as wet wipes.

United Utilities partnered with environmental inspectors from Environmental Compliance and Services (ECAS) to visit the food service establishments, and it recently signed an eight-year contract to continue the collaboration.

Marc Downes, Client Liaison Manager at ECAS, said: “Many commercial kitchens staff didn’t realise their own actions could potentially lead to sewer flooding, causing damage to their own premises and community.”

Andy Peet Wastewater Network Protection Manager at United Utilities paid tribute to all the compliant firms which had taken part in the campaign since its launch in 2019.

“Collectively, businesses have spent a considerable amount of money fitting new or bigger grease trapping equipment which highlights just how much they care for their community,” he said.

Preventing 2.5 million litres of fats, oils, and greases from being washed down drains on an Olympic pool scale not only reduces sewer blockages but also helps to reduce pollution in the environment.

Hospitality and food service businesses can make sure their commercial kitchen waste doesn’t interfere with the free flow of the sewers by fitting correctly sized grease trapping equipment and adopting good kitchen habits, such as:

  • Wiping and scraping plates, pans, and utensils before washing (and disposing in the bin)
  • Not pouring cooking oil, fat, or grease down the sink.
  • Collecting waste oil in a suitable container.
  • Not putting leftover food scrapings into the sink (dispose in the rubbish bin).
  • Using strainers in sink plugholes (and empty the contents into the bin).
  • Not sweeping waste into floor drains (dispose rubbish in the bin).
  • Maintaining grease traps and enzyme dosing equipment regularly.

Hospitality businesses looking to dispose of FOG and prevent FOG should search online for 'United Utilities Preventing Blockages' for more information.'