Fatbergs: The Worst-Case Scenario of Improper Grease Disposal

October 31st, 2019 |  Blog
Sewer System

Properly disposing of used cooking oil is an important responsibility of any restaurant or business. Not paying attention to how you get rid of your used oil could not only cause you severe financial and logistical headaches but also affect the wider community. In recent years, fatbergs have been discovered lurking in sewer systems underneath metropolitan areas. They are caused by the poor cooking oil recycling habits of the cities’ residents. Familiarize yourself with what fatbergs are and how to prevent them with this guide from SeQuential.

What are Fatbergs?

Residents and local business owners are not supposed to pour used cooking oil or grease down a drain. Sewer systems are not equipped to handle this sticky and dense substance, which easily clogs pipes. When people throughout a city ignore this warning, grease and fat collect in the sewers, congealing into a hard block that gets stuck in the confined space. Other debris and trash that has been flushed down toilets will stick to the block, growing the iceberg of fat. The combination of oil, fat, grease, and trash creates a toxic smell and can cause sewage to back up into businesses and onto the streets of a town if it grows big enough.

Where do Fatbergs Occur?

The United States and the United Kingdom have been hit particularly hard by fatbergs, but they have been reported in places all over the world. London’s lackadaisical rules about grease traps and narrow Victorian-era sewers have made them susceptible to the collection of fat. The world’s largest fatberg occurred in the Whitechapel neighborhood of London, measuring over 800 feet long and weighing 130 metric tons. In the United States, fatbergs have been discovered in cities of varying sizes, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to New York City.

How to Prevent Fatbergs

Fatbergs are easily avoidable if residents, restaurants and other major producers of fat and grease follow best practices while disposing of their used cooking oil. There are two main ways in which you can help your community by preventing fatbergs:

  • Recycle Your Used Oil: Instead of dumping your used cooking oil down the drain, recycling it using a specified container will limit the amount of grease buildup in sewers. You can either collect it in containers and dispose of it yourself, or have a service pick it up for free and allow the oil to be turned into local, sustainable biodiesel.
  • Clean Your Grease Trap: Even if you make an effort to recycle your cooking oil, some will inevitably make its way into your drain. Your grease trap is there to collect this excess oil and stop it from entering the sewer. But, if your grease trap is too full, it loses much of its effectiveness and will allow oil to escape into the pipes. Make sure to have your grease trap regularly serviced to make sure you comply with local ordinances and prevent grease buildup.

Make Oil Collection Simple

Following proper used cooking oil recycling procedures is the best way to keep your business running smoothly and limiting the formation of fatbergs in your town’s sewer systems. In order to make your life easier, SeQuential offers free used cooking oil recycling services. To get involved with cooking oil recycling and to prevent fatbergs from affecting your community, contact us today.