TORONTO: As thousands of Canadian families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving weekend with massive traditional meals, there's an inevitable crisis looming. Fat, oil and grease (FOG) will soon flow through the drains of kitchen sinks and toilets across the nation.
Flushing grease down toilets and pouring oil down sinks seems to be the easiest way to dispose of the liquid waste. Canadians need to consider what happens when it builds up in their local sewer systems, especially over a major holiday weekend like Thanksgiving.
Real research on turkey fat flushing:
Just how much fat is produced when cooking a standard-sized turkey? FluksAqua, a free water and wastewater utility forum, went to the kitchen to answer the question definitively.
Using a popular Canadian brand of frozen and stuffed turkey, FluksAqua cooked two turkeys in the recommended standard size range for a Thanksgiving meal that served 10-12 adults.
6.65 kg/14.64 pounds
Recommended serving for 10 adults
Produced 250 ml (one cup) of liquid fat
8.25 kg/ 18.2 pounds
Recommended serving for 12 adults
Produced 290 ml of liquid fat
"One cup of fat probably doesn't seem like a lot of liquid to flush into the system," said Dr. Hubert Colas, President Americas, FluksAqua. "Consider that thousands of households could potentially be pouring that cup down the drain. This can accumulate and clog the water infrastructure and pipes in your home, costing water utility services thousands of taxpayers dollars."
What is the real cost of FOG in Canadian Water Systems?
The City of London, Ontario services 381,000 water system customers and paid an average of $600,000 a year to flush out and prevent blockages in the system caused by "fatbergs." Fatbergs are caused by FOG, baby wipes and other materials that come together and create giant solid masses of waste that block pipes and restrict the flow of water.
What can we do about it?
Ideally, Canadians would stop flushing FOG down drains altogether.
London took a bold step towards providing residents with environmentally friendly containers to collect fat, oil and grease from cooking. The containers are designed to be disposed of through your regular waste system or taken to one of the city's four environmental depots. The collected waste is taken to an anaerobic digester, which is used to convert the waste into methane and then produces power.
"People want to do the right thing but we also need to make it convenient for them," said Barry Orr, Sewer Outreach and Control Inspector for The City of London, Ontario. "There's no excuse to use your kitchen sink as a garbage can with or without a collection cup. Canadians can easily keep FOG out of the water system."
As a result of London's 'Your Turn' FOG collection cup campaign, The City of London has been fatberg blockage free for over three years. Since the program began in 2013, 100,000 cups have been handed out. From a financial standpoint, Orr says that the city has saved over $100,000 a year on the drain diversion program.
City of London and FluksAqua are working together to offer the collection cups in other Canadian cities such as Windsor, Sudbury and Sarnia and others are interested.
"Reducing FOG waste in the water infrastructure means less pressure on the system and can lower operating costs," added Colas. "We're looking forward to seeing this community outreach, environmental and cost saving program roll out across the country."
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