Urban communities spend a great deal of time and money cleaning Fat, Oil, and Grease (FOG) from the sewer network.
Aging sewer networks are under increased pressure from growing populations and decades of underinvestment. At the same time, we have experienced lifestyle changes in what we eat and how and where we do so. As a result, the growing number of fatbergs is on the rise.
A fatberg is a congealed mass that blocks sewer systems, building up with a combination of FOG, non-biodegradable materials, wet wipes and other materials we ‘flush away’.
Many cities’ sewer systems are filling up with Fat, Oil, and Grease (FOG) as we are not all playing our part in looking after our sewers, bringing severe impacts to the environment and communities around us.
A threat to our health and environment
The health hazards that fatbergs can present to residents are alarming, potentially containing infectious bacteria including listeria, campylobacter, and E-coli. These strains were found to survive even when treated with drugs.
Damage to natural water resources is no less stark. When oil hits the water, a film at the surface is formed, reducing the amount of oxygen in the water which aquatic life dependant on. As such this pollution leads to continuous maintenance and clean-up, which can be extremely costly and time-consuming, nonetheless vital in these circumstances.
This is a similar situation to the single-use plastic problem and more recently, unflushables. For decades the issue was unrecognised to the masses and plastics, in particular, have become one of the biggest environmental threats across the globe.
Don’t let Fat, Oil, and Grease become the next plastic
In European agendas, FOG isn’t a high priority topic, but so under-highlighted that we need to open even more conversations with stakeholders from all levels. Raising awareness about the issue is the way to go forward, starting with the regulators.
There is no one single solution for an underestimated problem that impacts the entire society. That’s why we need to continuously collaborate, educate and communicate.
To safeguard our urban communities and environment in the long term, we need to put FOG management higher up the agenda.