Page 31 - MarketTimesFebruary2020
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MARKET TIMES • FEBRUARY 2020 31 How mobile caterers can
avoid a pain in the drain
Street food has surged in popularity in recent years. Now mobile caterers are a regular fixture at markets, festivals and local events. Yet preparing food on-the-go has fresh challenges — including what to do with the waste. This article explains how Southern Water is working with vendors to prevent fat, oil and grease harming the environment and causing a stink
 A TEAM of former police of- fers has been hired by Southern Water, one of the largest water companies in the South East.
The team works in the com- munity to help Food Service Es- tablishments keep sewers flowing by stopping the wrong things – like fat, oil and a grease (FOG) – going down the drain. When it heard reports of mobile caterers pouring used cooking oil down roadside drains, the team was concerned.
Steve Edwards is a Network Protection & Enforcement Offi- cer at Southern Water.
He explains: “Few people seem aware of the two different types of sewer. Foul sewers carry wastewater from homes and businesses to our treatment works.
“But street gullies are linked to surface water sewers instead. They’re designed to stop roads
Steve Edwards
flooding by carrying rainwater away to local rivers or out to sea. If people put waste or litter down them, it goes straight into waterways where it can harm wildlife and pollute the envi- ronment. Plus, if these drains become blocked, odours and floods can occur.”
Roadside drains are usually
the responsibility of local coun- cils and highways agencies. Yet Southern Water’s region has over 700 miles of coastline. The company is committed to pro- tecting the quality of the re-
Blocking a sewer is a criminal offence under the Water Industry Act and can result in a criminal prosecution
gion’s bathing waters, which have never been cleaner. To maintain this high standard, Southern Water wants to work with mobile caterers to prevent street gullies being misused.
A street-smart kitchen
In static kitchens, the team at Southern Water usually recom- mends grease management sys- tems are fitted, for example grease removal units or dosing systems that separate FOG from wastewater. Once separated, the wastewater can be safely washed down the drain and the FOG can be disposed of in the landfill bin. But what advice is available for mobile caterers who deal with waste on-the-go?
Steve Williams, a fellow Net- work Protection & Enforcement Officer at Southern Water, says: “In an ideal world, mobile caterers would have portable fat traps in their vehicles to sepa- rate grease from water. But we know that’s asking a lot. We recommend they talk to the local council or market owner
about the options available to dispose of waste on the market
Steve Williams
site. After all, the organisers will want to avoid behaviour that causes floods, smells or harm to the environment.”
But Steve has a warning for anyone tempted to take used oil home and pour it down their sink or toilet: “Fat, oil and grease cool and harden in your pipes and cause blockages. If sewage has nowhere else to go, it can flood your home or gar- den. We suggest you collect cooled fat, oil and grease in a container and bin it instead.”
Avoid the bill
Sewer flooding is messy to clean up and the damage can be costly to repair. But causing a blockage can have additional consequences. Blocking a
sewer is a criminal offence under the Water Industry Act and can result in a criminal prosecution. As former police officers, Edwards and Williams are experienced collecting evi- dence, compiling cases and pushing for prosecution.
However, they are keen to work with caterers to avoid that outcome.
Edwards says: “We spend half our time meeting Food Service Establishments and advising them how to handle FOG best in their kitchens. We spend the other half sharing our knowl- edge with food businesses and other water companies to raise awareness about how to prevent blockages and pollution.”
Join the conversation
Southern Water is working with the NMTF and other par- ties to explore how mobile caterers can safely manage their waste, and how harm to the en- vironment can be avoided.
If you are a mobile caterer and can offer any information or recommendations, Southern Water welcomes your input. Please email: stephen.ed- or stephen.williams@southernwa-

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