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Wessex Water says it has teamed up with Environmental Compliance and Services (ECAS) to work with Shaftesbury’s food sector on how to correctly dispose of cooking and food waste – so it doesn’t end up in the sewers, causing blockages, floods and pollutions.

Food waste and cooking fats congeal when they’re cooled, forming ‘fatbergs’ that block pipes, drains and sewers. This can then lead to sewage backing up into homes and businesses, as well as pollution of local watercourses, harming the wildlife that inhabits them.

George Taylor, Wessex Water’s director of sewerage, said: ‘Every year in Shaftesbury we remove around 864,000 litres of fats, oils and greases – or FOGs as they’re often called – from the inlet traps at our water recycling centre and the sewer network, where they can cause blockages. That’s enough to fill about eight double decker buses. The aim of this partnership is to work with the whole community to stop the wrong things ending up in the sewers.’

As part of the ongoing ‘Stop the Block’ initiative by Wessex Water, ECAS will visit food establishments in Shaftesbury from late August. Commercial kitchen staff in restaurants, pubs, hotels, fast food outlets, cafes, schools, and canteens will be shown how they can help keep the sewers free from blockages.

Philip Soden, managing director of ECAS, said: ‘We’ll visit commercial kitchens on behalf of Wessex Water to see how they dispose of their FOGs and food waste. We’ll be specifically looking at their daily kitchen practices, plus what equipment they have in place – if any – to trap grease and food waste, so it doesn’t go down sinks and drains. If they could be doing anything better, we’ll offer our recommendations and give them our help and support to become compliant.’

Good practice for commercial kitchens means doing things like:

  • dry wiping pots, pans, plates, knives and forks with paper towels before they’re put in the sink or the dishwasher
  • scraping -food waste into the bin or food waste recycling, not letting it go down the sink
  • having a strainer in the sink to catch any food waste
  • using grease trapping equipment to stop FOGs from going down the drain
  • getting a registered haulier to come and collect FOGs and storing it correctly while it’s waiting to be taken away.

George Taylor explained: ‘Shaftesbury is a beautiful town and like all communities in our area, we don’t want it to experience any nasty blockages. But that’s sadly been the case recently – compounded by the fact that there are lots of eateries located in close proximity to each other, serving the locals, plus the many visitors that come to the area.’

As well as engaging with local businesses, Wessex Water and ECAS will be at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show on Wednesday 14 August, talking to customers about the dangers of pouring FOGs down the drain and giving away some free, handy devices to help dispose of them safely.

Mr Taylor added: ‘Whether you’re a business or a domestic customer, if you want some advice on how you can help the community fight against fatbergs, or want to know more about what’s happening, come and speak to us.

‘Our region has some of the most beautiful communities in the country, and we’re looking forward to working with those communities to keep them that way and protect their local environment.’

For more information visit wessexwater.co.uk/stoptheblock.

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