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Help keep the sewers clear by binning Christmas dinner fat

Tuesday 22nd December 2020 12:29

A fatberg cleared from a sewer under the Shard in London

A giant 30-tonne fatberg was cleared from a sewer near the Shard in London last year

Thames Water is urging customers to help fight the fatberg over the Christmas period by safely disposing of fats, oils and grease.

With millions of people set to feast on the traditional turkey dinner on December 25, the country’s largest water company has highlighted the importance of letting cooking fat cool before getting rid of it in the bin, rather than pouring it down the sink where it can congeal and form sewer-blocking fatbergs.

These underground behemoths are created when grease and oil combines with “unflushable” items like wet wipes, leading to huge, solid masses which are difficult to clear and can cause raw sewage to build up and flood homes, businesses and the environment.

Thames Water regularly sees an increase in sewer blockages caused by fat and oil around Christmas time, which is believed to be due to the contents of turkey roast pans going down the sink along with leftover gravy and scraps.

Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said: “Sewer blockages caused by fats, oils and grease being poured down the sink pose a massive problem, especially during the festive period.

“They risk raw sewage backing up into homes or businesses, which no one wants to see at Christmas, and cost millions of pounds to clear.

“Even if the oil or fat is in liquid form, it can still contribute to blockages. It’s also a myth that pouring washing up liquid down with it will help – it doesn’t!

“We’d urge everyone to help by disposing of fat and oils in the bin, not the sink, as well as only flushing the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper.”

Customers are advised to collect fat in a container, such as a yogurt pot or jam jar, and leave them to cool down before scraping them in the bin. Wet wipes, sanitary items, nappies and other toiletries should also be binned rather than flushed down the toilet.

On average, Thames Water spends £18 million every year clearing 75,000 blockages from its sewers, unclogging five house blockages and removing 30 tonnes of material from just one of its sewage treatment works every day.

Last month, the company launched its annual ‘Bin it - don’t block it’ campaign, encouraging customers to be vigilant about what they put down their sinks and toilets.

As part of the campaign, the company has partnered with recipe box delivery businesses Red Rickshaw and Feast Box, who will include leaflets in their deliveries asking customers to safely dispose of fats and oils when they have finished cooking.

The company’s network protection team also visits food establishments across the region, ensuring they are not putting fat, grease and oil down their sinks and that fat traps are installed and working properly.

Businesses that allow fat, grease and oil to get into sewers can face prosecution, fines of hundreds of thousands of pounds and may even be forced to close.

Find out more about the Bin it - don't block it campaign.