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Re: [GreenYes] restaurant oil and grease
Having visited numerous sewage treatment plants, I concur with John Reindl's assessment that restaurant oil and grease is normally a collection system (pipes and lift station) problem, not a problem at the treatment plant.  This is different from automotive oils, which can be a problem at both the sewer and the treatment plant.

The recommendation from Long Beach is surprising.  Oil and grease is such a problem for sewers that many wastewater treatment districts nationwide handle their emissions as part of their pre-treatment program.  (Pre-treatment ensures that damaging discharges are removed from the waste stream before they enter the sewer).  Often, restaurants must obtain special fats, oil, and grease (FOG) permits, and are subject to inspection by plant officials.  They must generally install grease traps to collect the waste prior to discharge.  This is standard equipment, and I do not believe particularly expensive for the restaurant.  If there are line clogs attributable to particular restaurants, some communities charge these costs back to the restaurant owners.  The financial costs are fairly effective at encouraging proper FOG management.

An interesting angle from the Greenyes perspective is what to do with the collected FOG.  It can be trucked for treatment at the wastewater treatment plant (as they are biodegradable).  However, there is an emerging option to have the FOG refined and blended with diesel fuel (making biodiesel).  Early tests suggest that biodiesel burns much more cleanly than regular diesel, even in existing diesel engines.  Thus, older vehicles (city buses are a good example) can reduce air pollution and FOG discharge to sewers all at once.

Hope this is helpful.

-Doug Koplow

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

>>> <> 10/03/02 10:59AM >>>
The Long Beach Water Department has produced a brochure for restaurant 
owners about BMPs for keeping fats, oils, and grease out of the sewers. 
Unfortunately, one of their recommendations is that restaurants use 
disposable paper products instead of washable dishware.  I would like to 
recommend a change to their brochure, but wonder if this issue of "waste 
water vs. solid waste" has been addressed somewhere else.  It seems that 
most agencies are either waste water or solid waste, and very few deal 
with both.  I tried contacting the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles 
County (who do handle both solid waste and waste water) and the gentleman 
with whom I spoke didn't seem to understand why recommending disposables 
would be a problem.  His attitude seemed to be that since there was 
landfill space, better to send stuff to the landfill than put it into the 
sewer.  The gentleman e-mailed me factsheets that the Sanitation Districts 
send out, and they go even further with disposables.  The Sanitation 
Districts recommend the use of paper towels so that grease doesn't get 
into the sewers from washing machine wastewater!  It doesn't require much 
imagination to take this to its logical conclusion -- single-use 
everything (clothing, equipment, cars, buildings...), throw it all away. 
Come to think of it, that's not a far stretch for what we already have 

My instinct is to recommend that the Water Dept. just  remove any 
reference to disposables.  It seems to me that following the other oil and 
grease BMPs would keep grease out of the sewer without adding to the solid 
waste stream.  Have other agencies addressed restaurant oil/grease while 
also incorporating an understanding of solid waste reduction?  I would 
like to be able to put my recommendation(s) in terms to which the Water 
Department will be receptive.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sharon Gates
Recycling Specialist
City of Long Beach, California

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