Pub chosen for historic kitchen FOG trial two years ago gives grease blockages the slip

A pub at the heart of a historic cooking oil and fats trial involving Southern Water says the solution it opted for is still working wonders almost two years after it was put in place.

The Pelham Arms pub in Lewes installed a number of GreasePaks from Mechline back in 2016 in a bid to eradicate a longstanding issue of fat, oil and grease (FOG). It was facing a potential fine after struggling for almost three years to appropriately manage the liquid waste from its kitchen.

The site was attended to repeatedly by Southern Water as a result of FOG blockages and flooding to the surrounding residential area. And although initially the pub had no grease management system in place, when a grease trap was later installed on the request of the water authority it did not eradicate the problem.

The grease trap proved ineffective in preventing FOG reaching the public sewer, with further blockages and the spillage of foul sewage eight months later.

On revisiting the pub, which is owned by Hall and Woodhouse Brewery, Southern Water deemed that the site would be a suitable test site for Mechline’s GreasePak, the British Board of Agrément-approved bioremediation dosing system on the market. 

The system works by employing a powerful bio-enzymatic fluid that breaks down FOG into irreversible simpler compounds, and complies with UK legislation as an ‘effective means of grease removal’ as specified in the UK Building Regulations 2000.

During the initial year-long trial, Southern Water constantly monitored the sewers via CCTV and concluded that the installation had been a success. The sewer at The Pelham Arms site only had minor evidence of FOG after the trial, but this was mainly attributed to an untreated line from the pub’s washing machine.

Landlord Andrew Mellor said: “The main benefits of GreasePak from a practical perspective was that the kitchen staff had very little to do, just simply replace a cartridge every couple of weeks when the warning sound activated – no unpopular dirty cleaning jobs or waste fat disposal that are associated with traditional grease traps. The cost of running a GreasePak system is very minimal when considering the time saved in maintenance of a traditional system or jetting drains and sewers.”

Southern Water and Mechline returned to the site six months after the trial had concluded, and again at 12 months, and discovered on both counts that the sewer remained free from FOG build-up.

The pub has also now installed a third GreasePak unit to cover its untreated line from the washing machine, which was used for washing chefs’ whites, tea towels and other grease-laden linen.

UK Building Regulations specify that drainage serving kitchens in commercial hot food premises should be fitted with a grease separator or other effective means of grease removal. However, Mechline insists it is not enough however to simply fit a system and trust that it is effective. Operators also need to ensure that their waste does not interfere with the free flow of the sewage network, as required by law under section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

It insists that where the presence of a standalone grease trap might serve as visible reassurance of FOG being ‘trapped’, this build-up of solidified fat is not synonymous with success. It recommends combining other technologies, such as biological dosing, with the use of a grease trap.

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