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FOG - Fat, Oil and Grease
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Commerical Business FOG Program

Doing Business with Fat, Oil and Grease

If you are in the food service industry, fat, oil and grease (FOG) are an unavoidable part of everyday business. How you manage FOG in your daily routine can have an enormous impact on your business and the environment.

The Municipality encourages food establishments to avoid pouring FOG down the drain. Improperly disposed of FOG can clog pipes, cause sewer backups, overflows and odour problems, and may result in costly repairs, health hazards, interruptions in business operations or even fines. In addition, FOG can be a fire hazard as the buildup of oil and grease in cooking equipment can create blockages and damage to the venting systems (ducts and fans). Regular professional cleaning and maintenance of cooking equipment is required to reduce the risk of fire.

With scheduled maintenance and by incorporating some simple FOG management practices into your routine, you can protect your investment, avoid service interruptions for repairs, maintain a positive brand image and eliminate enforcement issues.

Voluntary Log Program

Businesses can help control FOG by keeping track of grease trap and exterior grease bin maintenance. By keeping track of your FOG, you can plan maintenance into your schedule, prevent unscheduled downtime due to repairs, avoid odour problems and backups, and minimize any interruptions or negative impacts on your business.

If you would like to track the maintenance of your grease trap or exterior grease bin, you can download the FOG Maintenance Log. Simply fill out the log every time you perform maintenance.

TIP: Keep a separate log for your interior grease trap and exterior grease bin.

Businesses can also volunteer to send the completed maintenance log to the FOG team every quarter (Jan., April, July, Oct.). By sending your maintenance log to the FOG team, they can help you track maintenance and keep on top of FOG.

For questions or to submit your maintenance log, contact the FOG Team at wwtp@rmwb.ca or call 780-791-0326.

Download our recommended maintenance log (above) to take control of FOG in your business.

Municipal Sanitary Sewer Bylaw

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Sanitary Sewer Bylaw – currently under review – requires all hotels, restaurants, laundries and other such food facilities to install and maintain grease traps of a proper design and adequate size. The bylaw also regulates the types and amounts of materials that are permitted to be put or poured into Municipal sanitary sewer systems. Fat, oil and grease are regulated under the bylaw, and those people found contravening the bylaw could be fined. However, the Municipality’s focus is to inform and educate residents and business owners rather than fine those that are in contravention of the bylaw.

The requirements in the bylaw apply to all forms of fats, oils and grease, not just deep fryer fats. Examples of FOG include dressings, sauces, soups, coffee creamers, ice cream, cooking oil and meat scraps.

Managing your FOG

FOG is often released into sewer systems through food preparation activities such as washing and cleaning operations, exhaust hood maintenance activities and waste disposal processes. Businesses can minimize the amount of FOG released into wastewater by incorporating some simple processes into their everyday routine.

Train staff to reduce the amount of FOG going down the drain:

Throw out solid food leftovers: Before washing, throw any solid leftovers into the garbage like coffee grounds, tea bags, gravy, fat or sauces.

Use sink strainers: Sink strainers will trap solids before they are washed down the drain.

Wipe before washing: For greasy pans, pour off the grease into a container and use a paper towel to wipe out the remaining grease in the pan prior to washing.

Strain your cooking oil: Strain or filter oil in deep fryers to extend the life of the cooking oil.

Don’t scorch your cooking oil: Extend the life of your cooking oil by controlling the temperature of deep fryers to prevent the oil from scorching.

Reduce, reuse and recycle: Separate waste vegetable oil from grease trap contents, store in separate bins and contact a collection company for pick up. Remember that grease and oil are valuable — they can be recycled into other useful products.

Trap your grease: Find a reliable grease collection company or grease trap service providers to maintain your trap and collect your grease.

Use less dish soap: Minimize the use of dish soap in dishwashing operations. Dish soap catches FOG and enables it to pass through a grease trap and later coagulate in the sewer lines.

Benefits of Proper FOG Disposal

  • Minimize the likelihood of repair and cleanup costs associated with sewer line backups – property owners are responsible for clogged pipes within their property line.
  • Avoid health risks and fire safety risks, as well as foul odours associated with overflows and clogged pipes.
  • Reduce the potential for service interruptions due to repairs or sewer line backups.
  • Save money by reducing funds spent on clean up and clogged pipes.
  • Create efficiencies by establishing FOG maintenance and disposal practices. Promote a clean environment and community.

Grease Traps

FOG: Grease trap system

A grease trap system. [Click to enlarge]

Regular maintenance of your grease trap will prevent buildup of FOG while saving time and money for your operations.

The Municipal Sanitary Sewer Bylaw and Engineering Servicing Standards require all hotels, restaurants, laundries and other such food facilities to install and maintain grease traps of a proper design and adequate size.

Contact the Planning and Development Department for information about permits needed for any plumbing alterations for grease trap installation by emailing current.planning@rmwb.ca or callling 780-799-8695.

Grease Trap Maintenance

Grease trap manufacturers recommend that the trap be cleaned about once every few days - that is completely drained, scraped with all solids and greases removed. This can depend on the size of the grease trap and the amount of material running through it.

Most local municipalities demand that interior grease traps are cleaned once per month. We recommend that grease traps are cleaned before the combined FOG and food waste level exceeds 25 per cent of the volume of the trap, or within 30 days of the last service, whichever comes first.

FOG Disposal

Separate waste cooking oil from grease trap contents, store in separate bins and contact a collection company for pick up. Businesses are recommended to contact a professional grease collection company to service their grease trap as the municipal landfill does not accept commercial grease.

Dispelling the Myths: Bleach, Detergents and Enzymes

FOG: Bleach, Detergents and Enzymes

Bleaches and detergents [Click to enlarge]

FOG in liquid form may not seem harmful, but when poured down the drain, it mixes with food and other sanitary waste, then congeals and hardens in sewer pipes that connect throughout the community. As this FOG builds up, sewer pipes can be partly or totally blocked, creating a number of problems such as sewer backups and flooding.

Bleach and Detergent

There is a common myth that hot water and bleach or detergent will clear FOG from pipes and sewer lines. Actually, this will have little or no impact once they are diluted in the sewer network. The FOG problem isn’t eliminated. It’s just moved a little further down the line.

The other consideration is that bleach is a powerful, toxic substance that should never be poured down the drain. Bleach can react with other substances and further clog your system. It’s also not very environmentally friendly.

Enzymes

It is also a common myth that enzymes will break down FOG and clear pipes and sewer lines. Unfortunately, this is not entirely accurate.

Many municipalities ban the use of enzymes as they only get the FOG a short distance further down the line until it reaches municipal sewer systems. At this point FOG becomes a burden on tax dollars for repair and service.

In the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the use of enzymes is discouraged as it is not a replacement for proper FOG disposal and management.

Household Hazardous Waste

Household hazardous waste such as paints, chemicals, degreasers and fuels should never be poured down the drain. They can be dropped off at the municipal landfill free of charge. You can also take your household hazardous waste to the annual roundup events usually held in September. Find out more about household hazardous waste.

Commercial Business FOG FAQ

Why is FOG a problem?

When FOG is not disposed of properly and allowed to go down the drain, it builds up over time in sewer systems and create blockages. These blockages can result in backups, costly repairs, property damage, interruption of service and damage to reputation. Remember, it’s not just your business that could be paying for costly repairs. Tax dollars are also used to maintain and repair sewer systems throughout the city.

Can I pour FOG down the drain?

FOG should never be poured down the drain. The Municipal Sanitary Sewer Bylaw regulates the types and amounts of materials that are permitted to be poured into Municipal sanitary sewer systems. Fat, oil and grease are regulated under the bylaw, and those found contravening the bylaw could be fined.

Is it against the law to pour FOG down the drain?

Yes, however the Municipality’s focus is to inform and educate residents and business owners rather than fine those that are in contravention of the bylaw. The Municipality’s Sanitary Sewer Bylaw – currently under review – regulates what may go down the drain and in what concentration limits.

Residents are discouraged from pouring any FOG down the drain. By incorporating a few simple processes into your routine, you’ll be helping to prevent a problem that is felt across the entire community.

What else should NOT go down the drain?

In addition to FOG, a number of things should not go down the drain. The following list provides an idea of potentially hazardous items that should never go down the drain.

  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Produce stickers
  • Cat litter
  • Paper towels
  • Flushable wipes
  • Cotton balls
  • Paint
  • Car fluids
  • Medications

What can I do with my FOG?

Commercial businesses need to separate waste vegetable oil from grease trap contents, store in separate bins, and contact a commercial waste disposal business for pickup.

Is my business required to have a grease trap?

The Municipality’s Sanitary Sewer Bylaw and Engineering Servicing Standards require all hotels, restaurants, laundries and other such food facilities to install and maintain grease traps of a proper design and adequate size. Contact the FOG Team if you have any questions or need further information:

What are the benefits of frequently cleaning my grease trap and proper FOG disposal?

There are a number of benefits to both your business and the community:

  • Minimize the likelihood of repair and cleanup costs associated with sewer line backups – property owners are responsible for clogged pipes within their property line.
  • Avoid health risks and fire safety risks, as well as foul odours associated with overflows.
  • Reduce the potential for service interruptions due to repairs or sewer line backups.
  • Save money by reducing funds spent on clean up and clogged pipes.
  • Create efficiencies by establishing FOG maintenance and disposal practices.
  • Stay in compliance with Sanitary Sewer Bylaw and avoid enforcement issues or fines.
  • Prolong the life of your grease trap life by removing any acidic rotting foods.
  • Easier and less time consuming cleaning if done more frequently
  • Promote a clean environment and community.

Can’t I just use hot water and detergent to get rid of FOG?

There is a common myth that hot water or detergent will clear FOG from pipes and sewer lines. While there may be some impact on clearing FOG from pipelines under the kitchen sink, hot water or detergent will have little or no impact once they are diluted in the sewer network.

Can I pour enzymes down my drain to get rid of FOG?

There is a common myth that enzymes will clear FOG from pipes and sewer lines. While there may be some impact on clearing FOG from pipelines under the kitchen sink, enzymes have little or no impact once they are diluted in the sewer network.

What could happen if plugged lines occur?

Plugged lines could result in the interruption of laundry and dish washing activities, loss of toilets, health issues, flood damage to homes and streets, fire hazards or odours. In severe cases, blockages can shut down business until expensive repairs are completed. Some repairs requiring digs, pipe replacement or other flood repairs could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

What if my sewer pipes become blocked?

Sewer blockages can happen on either the business’ property or along Municipal property. Responsibility for the repair will depend on the location of the blockage. Businesses are responsible for blocked pipes within their property lines.

To determine the location of a suspected blockage, businesses can call the Underground Services Department during regular business hours at 780-799-5823, or after hours at the Pulse Call Line at 780-743-7000.

Contact

  • FOG Inquiries – call 780-791-0326 or email wwtp@rmwb.ca
  • Environmental Services – Sewer backup – 780-799-5823
  • Sewer line locates – 780-799-5823
  • Planning and Development (a Plumbing Permit is needed for any plumbing alterations) current.planning@rmwb.ca or call 780-799-8695
  • PULSE Call Line – 780-743-7000 (evenings, weekends and holidays)

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