Fats, oils and grease (FOG) continue to plague sewer systems across the country by reducing sewer line capacity, clogging sewer lines and gumming up wastewater treatment plant works. Part of the reason is that the fats, oils and grease that make up FOG are distinct, entering the sewer system from different sources and possessing unique chemical makeups.
Animal fats and tallows are generally introduced from manufacturing or rendering facilities and can harden in pipes over time, limiting sewer capacity and impacting sewer component longevity. FOG can be introduced from food service establishments as well as residential users. The best strategy for reducing FOG problems remains source control, through a combination of mechanical separators, and regulatory and educational efforts.
Many communities require that food service establishments and other related industries employ interceptors to separate FOG at those sources, but many do not. Source control is a major component of industry best practices. Encouraging source control nips the problem before it can become a threat to property and public health.
While additives such as degreasers, emulsifiers, enzymes and bacteria can temporarily break down FOG deposits, they’re only a temporary solution. They are “spot” treatments that will break down FOG or liquefy it long enough to move it further down the sewer line, or into the treatment plant. In many systems, the use of enzymes, emulsifiers and grease gobbling bacteria by businesses is now illegal, because they can disrupt a sewage treatment plant by shifting its pH or introducing the wrong enzyme or bacteria.
FOG may collect in some areas because of poor pipe cleaning and maintenance, pipe defects, pipe sags or root problems. Therefore, the best way of dealing with FOG in sewers is source control, coupled with an effective preventive maintenance program.
Proper maintenance and education are crucial in keeping your establishment “FOG Free.” It is recommended that key “on site” personnel have FOG Certification, and that you have a qualified service provider work with you on grease trap maintenance to ensure that your facility is “FOG Free” and not contributing to your community’s FOG issues.