In light of Grease Week, I’m sure all of us from time to time have been to a fast-food restaurant, gone out for a nice steak dinner or have struggled to dispose all of the grease that comes from a package of bacon. Grease is everywhere. It’s in our bodies, our drains, and our sewers. And it is starting to become a problem.
The first Grease Interceptors can be traced back all the way to the Victorian age in the 1800s, where Nathaniel Whiting applied for the first patent. They became popular during the height of WWII, where small, steel traps were used to capture grease from meals, and use the glucose to make ammunition for the United States Army and the Allied forces. What the Privates would find out, after having to clean out the traps every week, grease traps STINK. It is quite possibly the worst smell on Earth. And it hasn’t changed.
Over time, high grease producing restaurants adapted these small steel or concrete traps to capture grease as we gained understanding of the damages they can cause. To this day, you will find these small steel or concrete traps all over the world, but it’s time to realize the truth: our grease interceptors are grossly undersized and improper maintenance of them has wreaked havoc all over the world. Not to mention that grease corrodes steel and concrete interceptors over time, but more on that later.
In Ontario, we specify grease interceptors only by flow rate. We have made changes by now offering HDPE interceptors that hold up better, but we are missing a key variable: grease production. If a low producing grease restaurant and a high producing grease restaurant have the same plumbing schedule, under Ontario code, they will be specified with the exact same grease interceptor. This is plain wrong. The high grease producing restaurant is then forced to clean out their grease interceptor bi-weekly or weekly, amassing more costs. Or, they let the grease flow down the drain, into our sewer systems, causing severe backups and clogs. This will eventually lead to that wonderful smell we discussed earlier, ultimately leading to restaurant customers or employees seeking different options to get out of there. We have seen these issues in Europe, North America, and all over the world.
This two-pronged problem required a two-pronged solution: larger grease capacity interceptors and proper maintenance schedules. If we do not crack down on this problem, our water systems that keep on society in balance will deteriorate. We need to start specifying larger interceptors that capture more grease, and enforce proper cleanout schedules to avoid that grease damaging our infrastructure.
Our Greasy Problem is here, and it’s time we fix it.