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Re: [GreenYes] restaurant oil and grease

The City of Greensboro NC has dealt with this issue from a drinking water capacity perspective.  Greensboro and the surrounding area has been in an extreme drought condition since 1998.  During that year we went into mandatory water restrictions designed to conserve water.  One ill-informed water conservation suggestion was to suspend the requirement for citizens to rinse out containers that were being put out for recycling.  Of course, this suggestion wasn't followed, but people were encouraged not to use fresh tap water to rinse the cans and bottles.  Admittedly, some people do get carried away in their zeal to scrub the cans and bottles perfectly clean.  Consequently, we try to educate people to simply remove any food residues from the containers regardless of the method they use.  

Our current water conservation ordinance has varying levels of restrictions, one of which is to ask commercial eating establishments to use disposable plates and utensils.  We've never had to go to that level, yet, but you can see how the debate may evolve.

I work now in a public utility in Winston-Salem, NC (20 miles west of Greensboro) that provides both water/wastewater and solid waste services.  Fortunately, we have a pretty constant supply of water from the Yadkin River (which we share with our neighbors to the east).  We haven't gone into any mandatory water restrictions here but we have asked our citizens to voluntarily conserve water as a means of showing cooperation with our fellow communities and that conservation is always a good thing.  Unfortunately, there are opposing attitudes suggesting that, unless there is a crisis looming, conservation is not necessary.  Indeed, our pricing structures encourage consumption, not conservation.  

Recently, I had someone who is a landfill advocate toask me why we shouldn't conserve water even in the face of plenty.  I retorted by suggesting that the same principal could apply to any and all resources.

I can give you names of people in Greensboro to contact if you so wish.

B. Wayne Turner
City of Winston-Salem
Utilities Division
phone: (336) 727 8418

>>> <> 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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