The National Restaurant Association released a toolkit aimed at helping its members learn how to best dispose of fats, oils, and grease. Hint: It’s not down the drain.
From leftover icing or sauces on diners’ plates, to the grease that accumulates on ventilation hoods, fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are found in every restaurant—and often end up in sewer pipes through the dishwasher or the floor drains, according to the National Restaurant Association.
In an effort to prevent FOG-clogged sewer pipes—which can also mar waterways, create bad odors, and release harmful pathogens into the environment—and help restaurants with their sustainability efforts, NRA’s Conserve team created a toolkit [PDF] that outlines best practices for disposing of it. The toolkit also includes a short animated video, “The Right (and Wrong) Ways to Dispose of Fats, Oils & Grease,” featuring “Frank” and “Beans” sharing their tips on how to get rid of FOG.
“Clogged pipes can cause serious harm to a restaurant business and to our rivers, lakes and streams,” said Jeffrey Clark, director of NRA’s Conserve program, in an emailed press release. “This toolkit will arm restaurant operators with the latest information on how to limit environmental, public health, and business risk from improper management of fats, oils, and grease.”
In the toolkit, NRA recommends that restaurant owners contact their city or county sanitation departments to get advice on how to best avoid FOG-related pitfalls.
“Really, it’s a local issue,” Clark said. “There are many, many cities and counties that have very strong, not only ordinances, but also outreach programs that work directly with restaurants to do this, so it’s not a brand new issue that we’re bringing to the industry—it’s more of a ‘Hey, here is everything you really need to know if you are expanding your restaurant or opening a new location, here are some cost considerations.’”
In addition to contacting local officials, the toolkit suggests that restaurants acquire good grease-control devices and that they get those devices serviced regularly. It also lists out the benefits, drawbacks, and the costs for purchasing and maintaining the equipment.
Another part of the process for restaurants is to re-educate their employees on proper FOG disposal. For instance, excess oil or grease should never be poured down the drains; only non-greasy foods, such as raw vegetables, should go down the garbage disposal.
To keep these best practices top of mind, NRA has created downloadable posters that are available in both English and Spanish.
“Hopefully people will be able to take the toolkit and use the resources we were able to leverage from some local cities and counties—and train their staffs in a more efficient way to properly deal with fats, oils, and greases with the posters and some of the handouts because it can be a real problem as it builds up over time,” Clark said.