The 2015 FOG Forum, organised by British Water, saw FOG solution providers pledging to develop an accreditation-based trade association to help solve the problem of managing grease disposal.
This duly happened in March this year with the creation of the Grease Contractors’ Association (GCA), which is an initiative in association with British Water which intends to be the voice of specifiers, installers and maintainers of grease management systems.
British Water believes the GCA will help raise industry standards and professionalism, by developing best practice in the specification, installation, and maintenance of grease management systems.
This should also provide a forum for discussion on non-competitive issues, and provide information to assist clients in their business.
Aimed at bringing clarity and transparency to the market, the GCA is the result of the effort, dialogue and collaboration of grease managers across the UK who believe experienced professionals need to stay united to do the best for the industry.
The GCA has been formed as a non-for-profit organisation with the immediate task of developing a Code of Practice which will cover service requirements, waste management, site evaluation, and health, safety and hygiene in grease management in food establishments.
It aims to lead the drive from qualitative to quantitative standards in the medium term, and influence these to be technology-inclusive.
The ultimate goal is to influence legislation by providing practical knowledge and scientific evidence to act as the base of new regulations.
GCA membership will be divided into three categories, depending on the nature of the business of the company applying and the approach to grease management solutions.
In order to be a full member of GCA, companies will have to satisfy a series of requirements, including offering to their clients all possible grease management technologies.
The fulfilment of these requirements will be checked on an annual basis.
CESA has been directly involved in this development. According to chairman, Simon Frost: “The work continues, and a recent workshop engaged key stakeholders to plan the strategy for future work.
“At the workshop it was agreed that FOG should be given value as a resource. For example, McDonalds uses cooking oils and waste from grease traps to power their trucks.”
Frost feels that the FOG problem in drainage could be eased by “developing the existing EN 1825 standard to be more representative of the needs relating to the treatment of FOG, and to review the British Water Code of Practice.
“We also need to engage a wider community of industry representatives in the issue.”
While manufacturer, Mechline is not part of the current GCA, the firm would certainly be keen to be involved if the group were to expand to include manufacturers of dosing units.
Marketing manager Kristian Roberts explained: “At Mechline we certainly feel that the introduction of the group could lead to one voice creating dialogue outside of our inner circle and the improvement of industry standards.
“The association is great news for grease management, a positive step towards the common goal of educating, sharing and promoting consistency throughout the industry when it comes to tackling FOG.
“We can see a growing benefit within the GCA, as there is representation at various stages where weaknesses in grease management implementation are commonly identified.
“Specifiers can advise the correct solution size and location, and choice of product. Installers can advise on the correct installation practice and show an end user how to use the equipment, while maintenance providers can recommend the frequency of visits required.
“As a manufacturer, we offer a technical support helpline to specifiers, installers and end users of our GreasePak system. Support, reassurance and advice on best practice goes a long way in our experience.”
Roberts added: “We are long overdue specific and consistent guidelines, resources and a voice on grease management which this association could provide.”
The company also believes that British Water’s FOG Code of Practice, released last year, was a welcome addition to the industry as a whole.
“Legislation and regulations exist surrounding grease management measures being put into place, which we are now seeing enforced by water companies and environmental health inspectors,” explained Roberts.
“However, the guidance on which measure and the suitability of an individual kitchen’s needs may still not be firm on everyone’s minds.
“Clarity has come in the shape of the FOG Code of Practice, but being of such a specialist nature; our dealers, water companies, foodservice establishments and more, still need advice on their options and how to get it right when it comes to FOG management.”
First Choice Environmental Solutions is also following GCA developments closely, even though it is not a member.
Project manager, Martin Allen, believes: “It is most definitely a good idea to bring together competency and expertise to improve the way we tackle the serious FOG problem.
“They can help develop good practice and be the voice of the industry.
“The GCA will also benefit the foodservice industry by offering an experienced and professionally unbiased viewpoint, looking at all the various problem areas by site surveying and correctly identifying the best solutions from the operational and environmental standpoint.”
However, not everyone is so convinced by the new group. GreaseShield system manufacturer, Environmental Products & Services (EPAS) does not think the GCA will benefit the industry and isn’t a member.
EPAS’ UK and export sales manager, Gareth O’Neill, commented: “Currently the membership is made of grease equipment manufacturers and service companies who will serve to protect their own interests and not provide a cost effective solution to the customers.
“However EPAS is working with the European FOG Association to develop international standards and accreditation to demonstration the performance of grease management to produce a standard for the industry to work to.
“The first grease product test rig to test to European and USA standards has been established in Stockport.”
William Clark, MD of Grease trap manufacturer Aluline, agrees: “The FOG debate has too many vested interest parties all trying to gain financial incentive.
“The actual concept of the GCA is sound, however the ‘experts’ are divided as to financial advantage.”
When it comes to possible solutions to the FOG problem, associations and manufacturers are again divided.
CESA chair, Simon Frost, summarised: “There is not a ‘one system fits all’ solution – a combination of bio remediation, grease removal unit and passive grease trap maximises the opportunity to eliminate the problem of FOG entering the sewer.”
Back at Mechline, it has been working alongside UK water companies to put to the test and showcase its biological dosing unit, GreasePak.
The aim of this combined effort is to ensure a consistent message and a fair share of information, making all the viable options available.
Roberts detailed: “At present our GreasePak is the only BBA Approved dosing unit. How do we know that any of the other dosing unit fluids available in the marketplace are effective?
“Some biological dosing fluids have been described as glorified washing up liquid!
“Mechline would urge people to check and clarify the strength and efficacy of the system and the biological product that they are purchasing.
“GreasePak fluid has eight different bacteria strains with over 500m colony-forming bacteria per gram.
“We have also been teaming up with our distribution network to try and clear up the myths surrounding biological dosing, the suitability and ease of use within a commercial kitchen.”
He acknowledged that there is no silver bullet solution to FOG issues, and believes that on a wider scale the answer is collaboration.
“If as an industry we all do our part, from manufacturer to the staff member in the kitchen that monitors the equipment, the issue becomes manageable,” he said.
“The key is training, training and training. Educate the end users – hearts and minds. Bad habits are the biggest issue when it comes to drainage blockages and misuse.
“Create a progressive culture and promote buy-in. Promote a change in culture and reward best behaviour.
“Making FOG management part of processes and procedures alongside hygiene and safety, raising the profile and internal compliance will help to imbed it into the working routine.”
He advised dealers looking to specify a FOG solution: “Firstly familiarise yourself with the FOG Code of Practice.
“The guide is easy to understand and will help you to look at the wider issues within the kitchen as well as walk you through the steps to consider e.g. the content of the menu.
“If there is plenty of fried food or pizza on the menu, there could be a good deal of grease being produced.
“Secondly, ask for help: there are experts out there. Mechline has carried out extensive research into FOG management in pipes and drains, for example.
“Go to the source and find out as much as you can about the product to make sure you are convinced it is a sound solution – even go and see it in action.
“We work together with our dealers to offer trials to organisations with multiple sites, often their ‘worst offending’ sites, so that we can show the difference GreasePak can make.”
Roberts also encouraged distributors to identify all sources of FOG and be mindful of hygiene and safety.
“Think about when FOG waste becomes hazardous (in a grease trap), or attractive and available to vermin and pests,” he said.
“Access must be easy for cleaning and maintenance, without which the FOG problem will not be solved and could become worse.
“Finally, plan ahead. Think about the future: is the premises likely to expand, move or change ownership, the menu or offer additional services which may impact on grease management?
“The right product, in the right location, which is simple to use and easy to maintain will work best for the kitchen and for FOG management.”
Over at First Choice, Allen cautioned that in many instances the consequences of FOG can be dealt with, but the problem can never be fully eradicated.
“Many knowledgeable people in this field would argue that it is almost impossible to completely remove the FOG problem and that careful management from creation to disposal is the key factor,” he said.
He also believes that dealers shouldn’t expect a silver bullet to provide the complete solution as: “In my view, this product currently doesn’t exist.
“Also consider the effect that food waste in general has. Food waste management systems, such as the Enviropure unit we supply, very efficiently remove the FOG element from food waste.
“Bioremedial systems such as the GreaseBlast help keep pipework clear of blockages and ultimately a well designed grease trap or collection system will probably be required, as some providers offer the facility of FOG removal by regular collection.”
Elsewhere, EPAS’ O’Neill believes that: “The issue of FOG in the drainage network can be solved by installed effective grease management equipment at the point of source that can connect to sinks, dishwashers, combi ovens and floor drains.
“Utilising equipment that is correctly sized, installed and maintained and is accredited and certificated to international standards will lead to reduction of FOG discharged to drain.”
He recommended to dealers that they should specify grease management equipment that is accredited to European, USA and international standards.
“The accreditation to the PDI, ASME and CSA, UL and Greentag should be supplied to the dealers to provide the support and protection against ineffective equipment that will lead to continued and costly drain cleaning for the customers,” he said, adding: “Equipment with self-certification should not be selected for installation.”
Whereas Aluline’s Clark commented: “Dealers do not have expertise to specify in this area; they should take care and remember they have a duty of care.
“As a respected authority on catering kitchens, if they specify product to drainage as they should, they must have good liability insurance or clauses to cover in case of problems.”
He feels that the hospitality industry also needs to educate end users and the public on the environmental and public health implications of FOG issues.
“There should be training on the basics in schools and colleges,” he advised. “Experts need to come to a consensus on the actual problem, but solutions should be found that are best for individual premises.
“Regulations should return to local authority control (remove individual benefits), where they can prepare common-sense rules for all involved.”