Grease traps are designed to separate and capture waste fats, oils, grease (FOG) and solids before they enter the wastewater. Grease traps are needed for preventing kitchen wastes, fats, oils and grease from clogging pipes and sewerage system which could prevent environmental pollution of water ways. FOG are mainly from the by-products of cooking such as food scraps, meats fat, lard, tallow, cooking oil, butter, margarine, sauces, gravy, deep-fried food, cheeses and baked foods.
Fats, oils and grease (FOG) which released into the drains will clog them and block water flow. Eventually, will results in flash floods during the heavy rains. The clogged drains will attract rodents and other disease-carrying pests. According to Majlis Perbandaran Klang (MPK), oil and food particles were polluting Sungai Kelang, causing floods in several neighbourhoods there. In addition to that, on August 2011, Datuk Dr. Mah Hang Soon said that the high grease content in wastewater or effluent from public market and restaurant was amongst the major causes of Sungai Kinta pollution. Based on the incidents above, it is clearly stated that FOG released into the drains will causes many environmental problems.
Referring to Department of Environment under the Pollution and Water Quality Improvement Program, food premises are one of the major contributors to river pollution. It is supported by the statement from Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) on 2016 where restaurant grease is the main contributor of overflow sewer pipes. FOG causes manholes in commercial areas to overflow.
Therefore every hotels, cafeteria, restaurants, school canteens and other food related businesses are compulsory to install the grease trap. According to Global Environment Centre (GEC) river care programme coordinator Dr K. Kalithasan, the existing law only required food operators to install a grease trap as a condition to obtain or renew their licence. However, the law did not specify details on the grease trap’s size, maintenance and oil collection, making it easy for the eatery operators to flout it. Apart from that, most of the restaurant operators and workers have no knowledge on grease traps or FOG maintenance.
Poorly maintained and low capacity of grease trap will allow FOG to flow into the sewer pipes via drains and storm drains, causing the build-up of fatberg. A fatberg is a congealed lump in a sewer system formed by the combination of non-biodegradable solid matter such as wet wipes with grease or cooking fat. Continuous build – up of fatberg, decreases the capacity of the sewer system as the FOG solidifies and deposits on the interior walls of the sewer due to the low temperature. Ultimately, it will cause the blockages of pipes and hence restricting the wastewater flow.
Therefore, it is vital for the food service operators to ensure that the installed grease traps should be well maintained and the capacity should be sufficient enough to sustain the FOG. For instance, a food court or a 24-hour restaurant will require a much bigger grease trap compared to a small stalls. Operating hours and the activeness of the food business are the factors when specifying the capacity of the grease traps. The food operators also need to ensure that their workers are well trained in maintaining the grease trap. Grease traps should be cleaned up regularly. The frequency of cleaning will vary depending on the type of food served and how active your business is. Regular cleaning keeps a grease trap working properly and will prevent clogging in kitchen drains and pipes.
The local authorities also need to regularly check on the grease trap installed by the eateries whether it meet the requirements or otherwise. Some of the irresponsible eateries installed the cheap grease trap only to obtain or renew the licence. The laws surrounding the use of grease traps at eateries are inadequate and needs to be tightened.
In conclusion, grease trap installation for every eateries, hotels, school canteens and other food related business should be mandatory and the local authorities should tightened the requirements of the grease trap specifications. Grease trap can prevent the environmental problems in the future.
Nur Imani binti Abdullah
Forum Air Malaysia