Stratford Fatbergs – To Be or Not To Be?  Not!

William Shakespeare, The Archers and Teletubbies are just a few good things to come out of Stratford-upon Avon.   And today (Monday 3 December) at a celebratory event, we announced that the town can also be proud of 24 of the local food service establishments (FSE’s), some big chains and some independent locals, who have done their bit to eliminate fatbergs by installing grease trap equipment that will prevent around 34 tonnes of fat entering the sewer system.

Last year, we were cleaning the sewer pipes in the famous Warwickshire town and found enough fat in them to make Romeo and Juliet turn in their graves. These congealed lumps (fatbergs) of fats, oils and grease (FOG) clogging up the water network can be caused by households and businesses, pouring food waste down sinks and drains.

But hopefully not anymore.

The local FSE community – including restaurants, cafes, take-aways and hotels - joined forces with us and network protection officers from Environmental Compliance and Services (ECAS) – to proactively make sure they were doing everything they could to dispose of FOG in the right way and keep the drains clear.

Keen to take part was the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), who welcome over a million visitors every year to their theatres, exhibitions and catering spaces.  The RSC is home to the Rooftop Restaurant, as well as Susie's and Riverside Café Bars, and wanted to do their bit to help us and ECAS.

Jenny Pulman, Energy and Environment Manager at the RSC, said, “As a theatre and food service establishment, we’re always striving to be environmentally friendly and implement best practice.  We worked together with Severn Trent and ECAS to find ways of helping prevent grease entering the sewers from our operations.  We’ve installed the latest technology to make sure we’re doing our bit to keep our beautiful town flood and pollution free."

Midlands company ECAS, have extensive experience in FOG management and work in partnership with us to prevent sewer blockages, that lead to floods and pollution. Together, they recognised the FSEs with a certificate to thank them for their co-operation - at an event held at the RSC.

Michael Smaylen, Network Protection Officer for ECAS, has spent time with all 24 FSE’s, including the RSC, making sure they’re ‘FOG compliant’.  It’s now estimated, that each year, these restaurants, cafes and takeaways will prevent over 34 tonnes of fat, oil and grease entering the public sewer.

He said, “We’re delighted to have proactively worked alongside these businesses. Most of them are really busy people, who welcomed our help and intervention. Once we’d done an initial audit of their premises, we gave recommendations, training on processes, advice on what equipment to use and install – plus, ongoing guidance on how to remain ‘FOG compliant’.”

We are continually striving to reduce sewer flooding for our customers. Grant Mitchell, FOG Strategy Lead, said, “There’s been a 35% reduction in the number of customers affected by external sewer flooding, largely due to our continued focus on prevention – just like this team effort in Stratford-upon-Avon. With help from ECAS, we work hard to educate businesses
about what they shouldn’t be pouring down sinks and drains, and advising them on what grease containment and treatment is needed.  We know that everyone is fascinated with fatbergs at the moment, but we want to save the heartache that goes with them by stopping them for forming in the first place.”