Action pledged at cross-sector FOG summit

One of the panels of FOG Summit

The hospitality sector has made a call for clarity from UK water companies around their requirements for the disposal of fat, oil and grease (FOG).

A need for the progression of national standards on grease management equipment was also highlighted at the European FOG Summit 2022, which brought the water and hospitality sectors together in Liverpool, UK, in October.

Equipment manufacturers and specialists in circular and renewable fuels also joined the conversation over three interactive panel sessions, with the aim of developing collaborative and sustainable solutions to keep sewer networks clear of FOG.

One panel focused on cross-sector collaboration. The role of water retailers and more targeted used of localised data were among discussion points.

Martin Needham, head of commercial at Everflow Water, said water retailers have a key role to play in helping wholesalers target commercial businesses.

“We are the conduit between wholesaler and end user,” he said. “We can support the wholesaler with making sure we’re finding the problem area and targeting the hospitality sector. We hold that relationship, so we have got to play a part.”

Ben Hatfield-Wright, FOG programme manager at Anglian Water said unity with cross-sector stakeholders can energise the circular economy and: “FOG is a massive issue for the water sector. We are under tremendous pressure with reactive workloads, pollutions and flooding.

“I want food service establishments (FSEs) to come along on the journey with us and benefit from the circular economy. That is the secret to moving tens of thousands of FSEs very quickly to doing the right thing and solving this problem.”

The final session of the day explored the potential of FOG as a resource, net zero and the circular economy.

Lee Dobinson, CCO at BioteCH4, told the audience his organisation works with large retail businesses, manufacturers and local authorities to process their fat, oil and grease and create biogas.

He said most of the infrastructure needed to process FOG from FSEs was already available: “The solutions seem clear, everyone is on same track. If you produce FOG, the infrastructure is there to collect it and process it. It will need to grow and that will happen over time.”

Keith Warren, CEO at the Foodservice Equipment Association, highlighted the new Environment Act 2021 and said there was an opportunity to get FOG included in its secondary legislation.

John Williams, senior partner at S’Investec, a private investment company specialising in clean tech, biotech and renewables, reassured delegates that the sector can create value from FOG: “You have a good business opportunity but you need to collaborate and to look at other technologies.

“You are moving from a waste logistics position to a waste refining position, which will valorise this sector, meet carbon targets and create the circular economy that everyone is striving for.”

Over the course of the summit, panellists also gave updates on standardisation and insights into FSE training and engagement, while water companies gave examples of successful customer awareness campaigns and FOG removal programmes.

Closing the event, Tony Griffiths, technical manager at United Utilities wastewater network technical, thanked delegates, partners and supporters and said: “There’s been a call for clarity. We absolutely need to work in unity. We are all responsible for tackling the FOG issue, so let’s move forward as a collective.”