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We’ve talked about it before, but we’ll talk about it again because month on month the problem still exists. Wet wipes and fats are massive problems in our sewers but the root cause is our laziness.
Back in October 2017 we wrote about the monster fatberg found in the UK sewage network that The Guardian reported weighed the same as ‘11 double decker buses’ and stretched ‘the length of two football pitches’. Yet, once this fatberg was cleared up the nation began to go about their business again and 9 months on, we’re seeing the same problems in the news.
The simple message here is that fats shouldn’t be poured down the drain and wet wipes shouldn’t be flushed.
By their very nature wet wipes are designed to be robust when wet, in fact they even go a step further as they can absorb fats and oils, which only adds to the problem. You can find more details about the problem on our blog from October 2017. However, this time around we’re putting even more focus on the solution.
The Monster fatberg in London took weeks to clear and required high-powered water jets and shovels to break it up. We are quite sure some Londoners experienced disruption because of it too. Channel 4 and The Guardian in conjunction with Thames Water reported on the forensic analysis carried out on the fatberg which showed that cooking fat made up nearly 90% of this particular fatberg. Among the other contents were wet wipes, plastics and a high concentration of prohibited gym supplements. When it comes to disposing of cooking fats and oils, we’d estimate that it would take 3 more minutes of our time to pour these into a glass to solidify than it would to pour down the sink. Then you can simply dispose of the solidified fat in your waste bin later.
Back in October, we talked about the need for education in this area for food outlets and consumers alike. We talked about the need for a change in the labelling of ‘flushable’ wet wipes. Yet as the problem continues, we wonder if the problem is more localised. Parents, grandparents and guardians need to be setting an example at home. If the next generation are bought up seeing these “3 extra minutes” being taken, they are sure to do the same when they’re older.
Food outlets also should avail of the services of waste cooking oil collectors, who will deliver fresh oil to their premises while collecting waste oil at the same time, then cleaning and selling it for future use, an excellent example of a circular economy model.
Around the UK, the customers of water companies are suffering blockages in their area and water companies are spending millions every month clearing blockages from our sewer network. This is all because of our poor disposal methods. Water companies are under increasing pressure with a growing population and requirements by Ofwat to become more affordable. Less money spent on clearing fatbergs and blockages could mean benefits for water companies and the customer alike. When it comes to fatbergs, no one wins.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the fatberg problem. Get in touch on Twitter @CDEnviro or LinkedIn