Solutions to the complex issue of fat, oil, and grease (FOG) can vary depending on whereabouts you are in the world. But experts agree that three things are crucial — communication, education and collaboration — and these underpin many FOG projects which are seeing encouraging results.
At our 2019 European FOG Summit, held in Amsterdam in March, we heard some inspiring success stories from around the globe.
Barry Orr, sewer outreach and control inspector for the City of London, Canada, has run a high-profile outreach programme since 2008 and has become an international voice on FOG. The programme included the launch of a labelled cup educating people on the importance of properly disposing of FOG. Residents were asked to collect FOG in the cup and either throw it away or drop it off at an environmental depot. Since the campaign began, Barry has become an international voice on FOG, regularly invited to events or speak to the media worldwide.
His proactive approach to community engagement has had fantastic results. Barry told the audience: “We used to have about 40% of our blockages related to fats, oils, and grease and we had a list of about 101 sites that we had to visit more frequently. Today we’ve dropped that list down to 26 sites and we have not had a blockage in four years related to fats, oils, and grease.”
“I am passionate about protecting my community and my community is not only in London, or Canada, it is the world. Not only are we protecting the environment, we are also saving money, taxpayer money,” he said.
Helping the sewers saves money
Stephen Edwards, Network Protection and Enforcement Officer at Southern Water, UK, works on a similar customer engagement programme. Steve’s team was established in 2015 to engage with domestic customers and food establishments, proactively and reactively.
“We began going to hotspot areas, educating customers, delivering the message door-to-door and through presentations,” he said. “It’s also our job to go and educate the 27,000 food establishments in our area. Education is key. Our work has been attributed to saving our company £11.2 million. So, so far so good — and a lot more work to do.”
Collaboration is key to Cassandra Mac’s work at the Tempe Grease Cooperative, a unique and innovative partnership between the City of Tempe, US, and its foodservice establishments to manage grease interceptors and fog.
Grease-producing businesses who voluntarily join the cooperative make a commitment to care and pay for maintenance on their interceptors. In return, they receive low-cost services and high-quality work, because the city brokers agree on prices on their behalf.
Cassandra said: “It’s all about partnerships. Working together with hauliers, with restaurants and the utilities — all working for the same cause. Perfect communication can’t happen but I think starting all on the same page would help and change from enforcement to partnership, education, and collaboration.” About 20% of restaurants in the region have signed up — but Cassandra hopes more will soon follow.