What is FOG?
FOG is the collective term for the waste grease byproduct that stems from cooking protein. FOG is created every day in residential, commercial and industrial settings where food products are produced, prepared or consumed. In residential areas, small amounts of FOG are generated when cooking meals. Towns and cities encourage their residents to minimize the amount of grease they put down the drain. However, in commercial food service establishments and industrial food processing facilities, FOG is generated in large quantities. Interceptors and wash down processes designed to capture FOG need to be constantly monitored and maintained to prevent FOG from passing into the sewer system.
How much FOG is produced each year?
According to the EPA, every restaurant can produce between 800 and 17,000 pounds of FOG per year, amounting to billions of pounds of FOG waste annually. Concern over the massive amount of FOG generated by the food processing sector has led to strict regulations and steep penalties for noncompliance. On the federal level, mismanagement of FOG violates the Clean Water Act, enforceable by the EPA through court-approved consent decrees. Consent decrees mandate a comprehensive remediation plan that can take years to complete at enormous cost to local taxpayers. Currently, dozens of consent decrees are being enforced across the U.S.
Is FOG really a problem?
Even if FOG is properly collected, disposal is still a problem. Grease Trap Waste (GTW) is typically transported to and dumped at receiving stations located at a relatively few municipal sewage (POTW) or commercial wastewater treatment plants where haulers pay fees of $.05-$.30/gallon (US Data). While most communities have instituted FOG abatement programs at the commercial level and education programs for consumers, few are addressing what happens to Grease trap waste once it is collected. This can result in grease getting dumped untreated into sewer systems and causing sanitary sewer overflows. Rising disposal costs have led some municipal governments to subsidize tipping fees in an attempt to prevent illegal dumping, with limited success.
How does FOG impact sewer systems?
Three-quarters of the sewage collection infrastructure in the United States is so clogged and damaged by brown grease that sewers are estimated to be functioning at only half their capacity. In the U.S., approximately one of every two dollars allocated to sewer line maintenance is spent to repair grease clogs and other grease-related damage. According to the Wall Street Journal (June 2001), local governments spend $25 billion a year to remediate grease-related issues — such as blockages, backups and overflows — to keep the sewers flowing.
How do you dispose of FOG?
Traditional methods of treatment and disposal include dewatering, drying, composting, land application, incineration, and landfilling. All these methods are cost additive and do nothing to capture the rich energy resources that are available in the waste, nor do they reduce CO2 or methane emissions as FOG decomposes.
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