Talking dirty —
disposing of waste oil
Stop! Before you load that drum of used vegetable oil into your van and head off into the woods under cover of darkness to dispose of your load, contact your local waste oil collector who will be happy to collect it from you and may well not even charge you.
While most caterers would never dream of conducting illicit night-time activities with their waste oil, those who do are not only ruining the environment, but also costing the rates payer dearly as they are the ones who pick up the bill for councils’ clearing up activities.
Each year 100,000 tonnes* of waste vegetable oil is collected from the catering industry. Of this, only 20,000 tonnes is generated by food production factories, which leaves a staggering 80,000 tonnes being generated by caterers. The Environment Agency believes that this is only half of the story, with a further 100,000 tonnes being disposed of illegally via drains or flytipping.
Stop and think – not down the sink
Fat, oil and grease (FOG) in liquid form may not appear to be harmful, but as it cools it congeals and hardens. FOG sticks to the inner lining of drainage pipes and restricts the wastewater flow causing the pipes to block. Using boiling water, detergents or bleach is only a temporary solution as the mixture soon turns back to thick or solid fat.
The number of blockages and pollution incidents relating to FOG are increasing. There are approximately 200,000 sewer blockages** throughout the UK every year of which up to 75% are caused by FOG. Cleaning these blockages costs millions of pounds a year, which is reflected in customers’ bills. By disposing of FOG down the sink, businesses risk blocking their own drainage systems, which can result in damaging and costly drainage problems.
Waste oil collection
In the past, food outlets were often paid for their waste oil, which could then be used as a high-energy diet for livestock. However, due to a change in legislation, this route is now closed and the oil has to be collected commercially for disposal or recycling.
Every business that creates waste oil has a Duty of Care to dispose of their waste safely and legally. This Duty of Care includes ensuring that your waste goes to an authorised person. The Environment Agency (Tel: 08708 506506) licenses waste oil collectors and can provide a list of those operating in your area.
Your Duty of Care also includes ensuring that the waste is being taken to a licensed waste management site. Your waste contractor must give you a copy of the waste transfer note. Waste transfer notes should be kept for two years and made available for inspection under Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
For further information on Duty of Care either call Defra Publications on 08459 556 000 or visit the Defra website.
With almost 75,000 tonnes of waste vegetable oil being transformed into biodiesel each year*, proposals launched in October 2007 by the Environment Agency and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) aim to cut regulatory red tape so that waste vegetable oil from places such as chip shops can be processed and used in engines more easily.
“In deregulating biodiesel made from waste vegetable oil, the product can better compete with biodiesel derived from virgin oil,” says Martin Brocklehurst, head of External Programmes at the Environment Agency. “This will increase the volume of waste vegetable oil recovered from places such as take-aways, restaurants, chip shops and food manufacturing sites. It should also reduce the amount disposed to sewer with all the benefits that will bring to the water industry.”
The Government’s directive states that by 2008/09, at least 2.5 per cent of fuel consumed in the UK must be biofuel, rising to five per cent in 2010/11.
How to dispose of fats, oils and grease (FOG)
- Train your staff on why it is important to keep FOG and food waste out of drains and sewers
- Have waste FOG collected for conversion into biodiesel
- Good kitchen practice – scrape plates into a bin. Do not jet wash them under a tap
- All sinks should have a strainer in the plug hole to prevent waste food from going down the drain
- Use a grease trap that is regularly maintained and emptied
- Use an enzyme that eats the fat and then eats itself
- Ensure all FOG is kept out of washing water
- Collect waste oil in a suitable secure container and store it in a secure area until collection by an approved and licensed contractor
- Seek advice from your local Environmental Health Office and Building Control Department
* Source: The Environment Agency
** Source: Water UK