The study, undertaken among drainage engineers from across the country, shows a significant problem with blockages and poor disposal practices leading to callouts to industrial kitchens.
Incorrectly disposing of fat and oil by pouring it down drains was the most common reason drain engineers were called out to restaurants and catering outlets, the research identified. Other common drain blockage problems included food remnants getting into drainage systems and customers flushing unsuitable items.
Many of the engineers surveyed said lack of staff knowledge about what should not be put down drains, a lack of facilities to properly dispose of cooking oil and fats, and staff cutting corners when it comes to scraping food, fats and oils off crockery were among the key causes of drainage issues.
The consequences of incorrectly disposing of waste not only affect businesses but also the wider utilities network. Sending out teams to deal with drainage and sewer issues caused solely by blockages costs Thames Water over £1 million a month.
Michelle Ringland, head of marketing at Lanes Group, said: “We understand that restaurants and catering businesses are often dealing with a huge amount of fat, oil and food scraps every day, and that it isn’t always easy to dispose of these remnants in the suitable way.
“This is why there needs to be training and investment from food outlets to ensure they have the facilities necessary to prevent drain blockages and ensure cooking ingredients and leftovers are disposed of responsibly.
“We work with a range of restaurant and catering businesses, including fast food outlets, large pub chains and specialty restaurants, and a key part of the work we do is educate staff at all levels regarding what is suitable to go down drains. Tactics such as improved signage around the kitchen and bathroom facilities are just small improvements businesses can make to help reduce drain blockages.”
For Scottish hospitality businesses, there will be larger repercussions for cutting corners than the inconvenience of a blocked drain when it comes to waste disposal.
Further to the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2016, a ban on disposing of food waste to the public sewer, including solid waste from grease traps and through macerators, has been imposed on all hospitality businesses throughout Scotland as of January 1st 2016. Failure to adhere to the new rules could lead to fines of up to £10,000.
This new legislation has already led to prosecutions, with a restaurant in Codsall receiving a fine for £5,495 for repeatedly blocking sewers through incorrectly disposing of cooking oil and fat from its kitchen.
For more information on what restaurants and catering establishments can be doing to improve their drainage practices, visit: www.blog.lanesfordrains.co.uk/prevent-oil-fat-blocking-drains/.