“Fat, oil and grease and wet wipes are a worldwide problem, and only by working closely together we can manage and reduce this problem.” Kicking off the 2020 edition of the European FOG Summit, Waternet’s Managing Director Renze van Houten gave the best summary of what the participants were about to experience.
For two days, some of the most prestigious minds in the European water and wastewater industries met to discuss the global issue that is FOG. Held at Waternet’s headquarters in Amsterdam, the European FOG Summit hosted a series of panels from regulation to the circular economy.
The second European FOG Summit was a great success. Themes were relevant to real issues and opened new discussions off stage as well. We had power-packed networking opportunities amongst the delegates. It was a truly wonderful gathering of wastewater industry professionals trying to put FOG high up on the agenda, and a great opportunity to meet new and existing faces of the industry.
Lily Chen – FOG Summit Organiser and Country Manager at SwiftComply
An action-packed first day
The opening session focused on policy and regulations, with a situational overview of the Dutch, British and American regulatory landscapes of FOG management.
Talking about the Netherlands, DCMR’s Nienke de Wilde and Gerard van der Jagt shared the stage with Waternet’s Thinka Lapre and Tjits van Lent. They explained how a combination of education, law enforcement and technological advancements is helping the country to prevent blockages and fatbergs from happening.
Stephen Williams, an enforcement officer at Southern Water, used his time on stage during the second keynote session to state that the UK urgently needs to create specific, proactive legislation to address FOG management.
The third session saw SwiftComply’s very own Olivier Terrien explaining how the US regulatory system follows a funnel structure with a federal agency overseeing 50 states, which in turn passes local legislation onto thousands of counties and cities.
Tom Freyberg, Content Director at Aquatech, moderated the afternoon panel on “International perspectives to eradicate fatbergs“. The audience saw debate and discussion from Stephen Edwards (Southern Water), Enda Collins (Irish Water), Teresa Lewis (City of Carmel) and Dr Tom Curran (University College Dublin).
Next came Anglian Water’s consultant Clare Pillinger on fake news and its impacts on the water and wastewater industry. Clare was part of the group behind the ‘Fine to Flush’ initiative, which created a common standard that informs which wet wipes are actually flushable — what puts them apart from the ones that the manufacturers wrongly advertise as such.
The final debate of the day centred around resource recovery. Dickon Posnett (Argent Energy) conducted the discussion, with Karyn Georges (Isle Utilities), Mike Hogg (Argent Energy) and Steven Wante (Suez) talking about what should happen to fats, oils and grease after this material has been collected, and what we can or must do to see an enabled circular economy.
Closing the day, SwiftComply’s UK Business Director, Laura Su, went on stage with Dr Mar Batista (British Water), Natalia Jawiarczyk (Cranfield University) and Clare Pillinger for a bold statements session about regulations and resource recovery.
Practical approaches on the second day
Dr Tom Curran (UCD) opened the second day with a talk on how research can help find solutions to stop fatbergs from appearing. In his session, Waternet’s Bas de Nijs also spoke about the methods of preventing fatbergs, but from a Dutch perspective.
From a suppliers perspective, Julek Drowniak (Riotech), Gurgen Yanguc (Grease Shield) and Michael Fitzpatrick (Grease Guardian) were invited to share the grease trap providers’ viewpoints. They all agreed that the best way to get food businesses to install these devices is to have them first and foremost understand why stopping FOG pollution is so critical.
Engaging opportunities and a tour behind the scenes
This second edition of the European FOG Summit was filled with technology and engagement. During each break, attendees had the opportunity to make new connections, gain insights from the exhibitors at their stands, and catch up with their fellow industry professionals from around the world.
Networking was not the only opportunity to engage during the summit, the audience could use their smartphones during sessions to connect with panellists, asking real-time questions and partaking in polls that extended and enhanced the topics in discussion.
We had a very high level of engagement from the audience: during the sessions, up to 80% of the delegates participated in real-time polls using their own smartphone.
There was even virtual participation: unable to travel due to the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Enda Collins, from Irish Water, joined the debate on perspectives to eradicate fatbergs with his colleagues without leaving his office in Ireland.
To finish the summit, attendees were invited for a tour at one of Waternet’s wastewater treatment plants, with the opportunity to see for themselves how the Dutch company’s largest facility operates, and what it does to keep Amsterdam running.
The European FOG Summit 2020 was an event like no other, and if you couldn’t attend it, don’t worry: pack your bags for a trip to the coastal city of Brighton, in the UK, where the 2021 edition will take place.