Researchers estimate that U.S. restaurants produce about 25 billion gallons of used cooking oil every week. Much of these fats, oil and grease (FOG) end up in sewers and water systems, causing expensive blockages and backups, as well as overflows that damage the environment. With proper grease management, you can minimize pollution and your expenses.
- Help your business. Pipe bursts, overflows, backups and blockages can cost you a lot more money than proper FOG management. Food service establishments that contribute to FOG buildup in pipes can even face lawsuits and fines. Plus, the bad odors and pest problems caused by greasy pipes hurt business.
- Help your community. Every time grease gets in pipes, it causes problems for the city’s entire water system, from the sewer system to the water treatment plants. It can even cause sewage backup, which is a serious health hazard. Proper FOG management can improve your business’s image in the community.
- Water Assessment. Leaky plumbing fixtures are only sending your money down the drain. A water assessment will determine where the most money can be saved.
- Help the environment. When FOG accumulates in sewer systems and leads to overflows, sewer waste ends up in lakes, streams and oceans, causing serious damage to the ecosystem. Furthermore, proper FOG management can help the environment by providing an otherwise wasted source of biodiesel.
Tips for Minimizing Production of FOG
- Prevent oil spills. Remind kitchen workers to be careful when handling oil and fats.
- Bake food instead of frying. Baked foods are healthier and produce less oil waste. Baking is also more energy-efficient than frying. With a convection or combi oven, baked foods can acquire the crispiness of fried foods.
- Reuse clean oil. Do not throw out oil from skillets, pans and woks if it is still clear and usable for cooking.
Tips for Proper Disposal of FOG
- Recycle or sell used oil. Find a grease handler that will recycle your grease, not throw it away. “Yellow grease,” the side product of fryers and grease recovery devices, can be sold for a profit.
- Clean grease traps regularly. Any sink or floor drains that might take in oil should be connected to a grease trap or grease separation device. An overly full grease trap does not properly separate grease from water. Clean drain traps at least once a week. Contract a grease handler to remove grease from interceptor tanks at least once every three months.
- Dry clean FOG. If you use water to clean up grease, it will ultimately go down the drain. Instead of soaking up grease spills with reusable rags that must be washed with water, use food grade paper to wipe up grease.
- Scrape dishes into trash. Use rubber scrapers to remove grease and food scraps from dinnerware and cookware before dishwashing, since dishwashing soap emulsifies oil and water, allowing FOG to pass through grease traps
- Post signs. Hang “No Grease” posters above sinks and drains that do not connect to grease traps.
- Use a hot grease receptacle. Designate a metal container for hot greasy foods to allow the hot grease to cool. Before disposal use an absorbent material, like coffee grounds or kitty litter, to soak up grease and prevent it from seeping.
- Keep FOG out of garbage disposal. Never put fatty food scraps or oil down a garbage disposal, even if it is connected to a grease trap.
Grease Recovery Devices: Earn Money and Help the Environment
Typical grease traps, like passive traps installed in pipes or conventional in-ground grease interceptors, collect dirty grease or leave the separated water and grease floating together, resulting in unusable FOG or “brown grease.”
An automatic grease recovery device (GRD) improves the effectiveness of grease separation by continually separating the grease from the water. This results in cleaner grease and cleaner water, which means fewer blocked and busted pipes for your business. The recovered grease, known as “yellow grease,” is a valuable commodity that can be sold to grease handlers or biodiesel companies for a profit.