Industry experts from across the UK are gathering in London next week to discuss the growing menace of fatbergs in the UK’s sewerage system, and agree a plan to tackle them.

It’s the first time that representatives from foodservice outlets, water companies, sustainability organisations and biofuel companies have joined forces to explore how every part of the supply chain can stop fats oils and grease (FOG) entering the drains and clogging the sewers.  It will also explore how FOG, which is typically considered as a waste product, can be recycled as a fuel product.

The conference, entitled “From Fog To Fuel”, will be held on March 13, 2019, at Montague on the Gardens in London WC1.  It is being organised by the Sustainable Restaurant Association and Kingspan Water & Energy.

There are now an estimated 366,000 sewer blockages every year across the country, 70 per cent of them caused by FOG.

Sewer blockages cause huge disruption and a public health nuisance.  They are also bad for individual food outlets as local blockages cause bad smells, blocked WCs, and will land the owner with a large bill for the cost of the clean-up.

It is a criminal offence under Section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 to discharge into the public sewers any matter which may interfere with the free flow of wastewater.  Building regulations state that kitchens in commercial hot food premises should be fitted with a grease separator (or other effective means of grease removal) to capture FOG before it enters the drains. However, this has not been sufficient to prevent sewer blockages.

The conference aims to share knowledge and best practice, consider some of the myths around FOG and food waste and decode the latest policy.  It should also lay the groundwork for an industry-wide action plan that will save foodservice businesses money and free up the nation’s drainage system.

David Anderson, Business Unit Director for Kingspan Water & Energy, says, “We’re delighted by the huge level of cross-industry support we’ve received for the first-ever UK FOG to Fuel Conference.

“The UK’s sewer network is clogging up.  This extraordinary underground network of Victorian tunnels, on which we all depend to remove our waste, is grinding to a halt and we need far stronger preventative measures to stop this happening.

“We’re hearing a lot about wet wipes and what shouldn’t be flushed down the WC, but FOG is a key major causal issue of blocked sewers and despite legislation, it is still entering the drains in high quantities.  We need to explore better use of technology to prevent this happening.

“But we’re also very keen to see a change in attitude towards FOG from a waste product, to fuel.  FOG has huge potential value as the bio-component for high grade, sustainable diesel for fleet operators.   This offers an attractive payback for food outlets in partnership with strategic bio-fuel manufacturers, making a shift in attitudes a real win for the food service industry and for the environment.”

Andrew Stephen, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “Tackling FOG should be a part of the waste strategy of every responsible foodservice business.

“We hope this unique event will be the launch pad for the clearest, most practical roadmap for the industry to follow, creating a clear sewer network and a lucrative income stream.”

The SRA/Kingspan Water & Energy “From Fog To Fuel” Conference is being held on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at Montague on the Gardens in London WC1. Attendance by invitation only.  Follow the conversation on twitter @SRA and @KingspanEnviro #FogToFuel.