Around 1,000 restaurant businesses in the York area will receive specialist support and guidance to improve their management of cooking residues following a three-way partnership spearheaded by Yorkshire Water.
The water authority has teamed up with City of York Council and wastewater software management specialist SwiftComply to deliver an “engagement” pilot aimed at tackling an increase in issues relating to FOG and fatbergs.
The programme will involve SwiftComply establishing and publishing a website and digital media campaign to help restaurants improve their onsite FOG management practices.
Further to this, food businesses will be provided with the opportunity to opt into an onsite FOG Risk Audit, carried out by the SwiftComply team. Food businesses will be provided with a report detailing areas they can improve and reduce their FOG risk, along with support to manage these changes.
Initially, above-ground data on the number of restaurants, their GPS coordinates, cuisine-type and contact details will be collected using specially designed cloud-based software.
This information can then be expanded by finding out more about onsite FOG management from site visits, telephone interviews and digital questionnaires.
SwiftComply will examine if restaurants have installed a grease trap, whether it is correctly sized and how it is being maintained.
The data is expected to provide it with a valuable resource for utility providers to tap into, facilitating much more robust decision-making around effective FOG education programmes with local business owners.
Restaurants will be provided with digital and paper educational materials promoting best practice kitchen grease management.
This includes washing-up practices such as advice on the dry-wiping of greasy cookware, crockery and equipment, along with guidance on the safe storage of waste oil.
Steve Wragg, flood risk manager at City of York Council, says, “As a flood risk officer, I see firsthand what problems fat, oil and grease create on our sewer network system. We’re pleased to support this campaign with Yorkshire Water. Anything we can do to highlight the problems this causes, including fatbergs or other environmental damage, is a positive step.”
The historically light regulation of foodservice establishments in the UK means water companies face a greater challenge to change food business behaviour than in parts of the world where licensing for their discharges to sewerage exists.