Until you work in the food service industry, you’ll probably never hear about them. But the owners, operators, and managers of this industry understand the importance of grease interceptors (also known as grease traps) in the workplace. While policy is what requires the installation of these traps in the food service industry, the role and importance of the grease interceptor is one not only for the community, but also making sure the business doesn’t suffer from a sewer overflow.
Why Do We Have Grease Traps?
In the United States, sewers back up annually “an estimated 400,000 times, and municipal sewer overflows on 40,000 occasions,” according to the U.S. News & World Report. In 2004 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their study in to the cause of these sewer overflows, and determined that pipe blockages were the leading cause. Of the causes for these blockages the leading culprit was grease. Because of this the EPA requires all communities to have a policy in place to control such waste matter, collectively known as Fats, Oils, Grease, and Solids or FOGS. All food services are required to have a grease interceptor to stop FOGS from entering the sewers.
How Grease Interceptors Work
The basic design of grease trappers are the same: they are a device placed between kitchen wastewater and the sewer, designed to filter out FOGS from the water, hence the name grease trap or grease interceptor. The device consists of a large container where the water commonly flows through a series of baffles and retention reservoirs to strain out solids and filter off the “scum” of oils, fat, and grease. The size and location of the device varies by need and city requirements, but can be installed under a sink for small units, or larger units may be installed outside and underground.
Types of Grease Trappers
There are three major types of grease traps, based on the needs of a company and their desire for automation.
A Passive Grease Trap is the most common, especially for small commercial kitchens. These small units are installed directly under sinks. These units restrict water flow, and remove most of the FOGS that flow through them. They must be emptied regularly, especially if lots of solids are drained down the sink.
The Gravity Interceptor is an industrial solution to the commercial problem. Ranging in size from 500-1000 gallon units, these large in-ground units are for large restaurants. As more water flows in, the cleaned water is pushed out the bottom of the tank. The residue from the FOGS must be pumped out regularly.
An Automatic Grease Recovery Unit or ARGU or sometimes GRD (Grease Recovery Devices) are automatic systems that can actually recover waste grease that can be used in WVO programs. While the trap is cleaned of grease automatically, the unit should be serviced regularly to remove solids.
And that’s grease interceptors in a nut shell. If you’re looking for additional information, for servicing for your existing grease trap, or installing a new interceptor in your business, give Food Grease Trappers a call. We’ll help you get to the bottom of the problem, and then pump it out.