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  • Writer's pictureIn-Pipe Technology

Improving Fats, Oils, And Grease (FOG) Education For Better Wastewater Management

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are common household and industrial byproducts that can wreak havoc on sewers and collection systems. Yet we commonly rinse them down the drain without giving it a second thought.

At the same time, the signs of an overflow are immediately noticeable: sulphury smells permeating your home or the local area are a surefire indicator that there is a FOG issue. FOG problems can be highly hazardous for public health and the environment - they can damage your home, spill into local waterways and cause other damages.

FOG can cause blockages that lead to sewer overflows and other system backups that can cause damages to building interiors and exteriors depending on how bad the overflow is and where it’s coming from. And we’re honestly doing it to ourselves.

Where do households and businesses contribute to this issue? By allowing FOG to go down household drains and badly maintained grease traps. The problem is that left to go on long enough, these practices can cause costly infrastructure damage, pose health risks and actually drive up the cost of services long-term.

The only way to overcome this hurdle is by improving fats, oils, and grease education for better wastewater management. This is how:

FOG Origins In Residential And Commercial Areas

FOG in households and commercial businesses like restaurants come from several everyday products used in food preparation. Things like:

  • Lard and meat fat byproducts

  • Dairy-based products

  • Typical cooking oils

  • Butter and margarine

  • General food waste

  • Sauces

Once these cooking byproducts are washed down the sink and enter the plumbing system. This is a huge oversight in good education - FOG should never go down the drain, and those detergents you’re adding are only making a temporary difference if any at all. In fact, they might just be adding more pollutants to the water system.

Once FOG moves through the collection system and into the sewer lines, it starts to build up on the sides and compact together. As time goes on and more FOG is going down the drains, the compaction will get bigger and bigger until the pipeline has been completely blocked by a fatty deposit that is a real headache to remove.

When completely blocked, the results can be hazardous:

  • Sewage, no longer able to move down the pipe, starts to flow back up into homes, streets, or backyards.

  • The public is then exposed to disease-causing bacterias from unprocessed sewage

  • Expensive cleanup crews need to come out to resolve the issue

  • The town or city needs to boost its maintenance processes, causing an increase in sewage bills

This type of issue is typically most common in commercial areas that house restaurants or multi-tenant housing like apartment buildings. These businesses usually rely on the use of a grease trap or interceptor to catch the majority of their FOG runoff.

When maintained properly, these grease traps are effective at stopping most FOG byproducts from entering the sewer system. But left without cleaning or repairs and an over-reliance on chemicals that claim to dissolve grease have created a lax attitude that leads to clogged sewer lines or worse.

Residential households aren’t innocent either. Home garbage disposals that connect to the plumbing system are unable to keep FOG out of the sewer collection system too. These home units are made to shred solid food materials into smaller pieces. Commercially available “grease-dissolving” detergents simply move the FOG further down the collection system to cause further damage down the line.

What Can Be Done About FOG

There are several approaches that need to be taken to reduce FOG issues in sewer systems, and they all relate to better education.

At the household level, the public needs to come to understand that they can actively help prevent sewage overflow by not introducing FOG to the system in the first place. In short, FOG should never go down your home’s drain. It’s better to dispose of these greases and oils in a container that goes into your trash.

Some of the easy changes that could be made by the public include:

  • Using a sink strainer to catch food bits and other solids.

  • Placing liquid greases in an old container and refrigerating it first to make it solid before throwing it away.

  • Scraping oils off of plates and other cooking and eating utensils before washing them.

  • Make use of fewer detergents that don’t do anything for grease dissolving.

  • Speak with others in the community about these practices

When it comes to the commercial sector, there is a need to be stricter guidelines regarding grease trap and interceptor maintenance. Cleaning should routinely happen (almost daily is recommended) and regular inspections should take place to ensure that grease traps are installed correctly and in proper functioning order.

The easiest way to make this possible is to integrate these regulations with current health inspections that take place in restaurants, for example. Health inspectors can be taught to check for potential FOG risks and to provide adequate education to new restaurants or other food-type businesses that don’t meet the current standards.

Will FOG Really Be That Expensive To Fix?

The short answer is yes. FOG can hold damaging implications for sewage collection systems and wastewater treatment plants too.

FOG in the system means more money and operations need to be dedicated to removal, cleaning, and maintenance. If not treated properly, FOG can damage the oxygen levels in the water systems that the wastewater is released into. This can have disastrous impacts on the local ecology.

Without proper steps being taken by the community when it comes to FOG, a greater economic impact will be felt by the water authorities and ultimately the individual ratepayer.

The above applies when the FOG stays in the collection system. When it doesn’t, and there are sewer overflows, there will be additional work needed to resolve the environmental consequences. Pathogens like E.Coli that can cause cholera and other diseases will be exposed to the public.

There are also social and economic consequences for local home and business owners. Bad smells and sewage overflow can cause property values to drop and local businesses to lose customers. Sewage contaminated with FOG can even damage and contaminate the soil which will require removal and replacement.

The best way forward is to ensure that education and awareness regarding FOG are provided to the public.

Yes, legislation and enforcement will matter, but the best way to avoid these issues in the future is to make sure that the public and the commercial sector are aware of the impact their actions can have. It’s not just about damage to the sewer lines and other wastewater infrastructure, but about the issues that it can cause for the environment.

Getting Rid Of FOG With In-Pipe

Want to eliminate FOG buildups in your sewer lines?

The In-Pipe proprietary bacteria solution metabolizes FOG naturally and is safe for your system. We don’t use chemicals or surfactants that can cause issues for your pipes and infrastructure because we’re in the business of solving problems for you, not creating them. Once the system is set up, we run it – saving you and your staff time and money.

Right now, your crews might have to visit FOG-plagued sites every week – or, if you’re lucky, every month or so. They go out there and blast the fog through the system to the plant before it causes a backup. Done.

Until the next time.

So what can an In-Pipe solution offer you when it comes to FOG?

  • You’ll see results quickly, and they’ll last over time. We’re committed to providing you with the last FOG solution you’ll ever need.

  • When you and your team no longer need to fight FOG throughout your system, you’ll see immediate benefits to your bottom line. In-Pipe’s solution will also save you from the costs associated with jet/vacing, manpower and even help address odors and SSOs.

  • Our bioscience-based solution employs several different strains of bacteria, tailored specifically to be effective with your FOG problems. With our flexible solution, you can be confident that you’ll see measurable, demonstrable results, quickly – regardless of the changing dynamics of your environment.

Even better is that we’ll be on-site every month to ensure that you’re satisfied with how our approach is working for you. The In-Pipe solution doesn’t rely on any harsh chemicals - we’ve really thought through not only how to address FOG, but also how to avoid the common downsides of other ways to fight it. Our bioscience-based solution is all-natural, so it doesn’t introduce harmful chemical byproducts into your system or plant, and it doesn’t corrode or degrade your pipes and infrastructure.

Changing your game plan against FOG from defense to offense is the best way to knock it out of your system quickly and keep it out, saving you time and money and letting your team focus on more important issues.

Contact In-Pipe today for a custom FOG-tackling plan that will help you to put all the usual frustrations in the past.

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