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A sentence for flushing food down the loo?

We've been working with network protection officers from ECAS to help a Shropshire prison dispose of food waste in the right way.

At the local sewage treatment works in Stoke Heath, our teams on site noticed something peculiar was going on. An unusually high amount of solid waste was coming into the works, which meant extra emptying and cleaning tasks were having to be done.

Grant Mitchell, sewer blockages lead, explains: “Not only did all of the extra solid waste mean that we had to install additional equipment to break it down, it also meant that our teams were spending an extra half a day each week cleaning out grit from the equipment to stop blockages from happening.”

Grit sounded unusual, and on further inspection, it became apparent that it was actually food waste, and in particular, crushed egg shells.

Luke Mosley from ECAS, was called in to help solve the mystery. One of the nearby facilities connected to the sewage treatment works was Stoke Heath prison. With over 700 inmates across eight wings, Luke went to assess their kitchens to find out how they disposed of their food waste.

He said: “One thing we discovered was that some inmates were allowed to eat in their cells, and were flushing their meals down the toilets - which of course then entered the sewer system, potentially choking the network. And as for the egg shells, well they came from the eggs used in protein shakes made by the inmates.”

Prison staff welcomed help from both us and ECAS – as their current food waste processes were in need of improvement, and they were keen to avoid rat infestations. Now, all food waste is collected and removed and the use of food macerators has been abolished – reducing the temptation to put food down the sinks and drains.

Grant added: “It’s been a great success, working as a team with ECAS and Stoke Heath prison - to stop food waste entering our network and causing blockages that impact our customers and the environment.  It’s always a last resort, but we do have the
power to prosecute where people don’t comply, but in this case, nobody’s been sentenced as a result!”

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