Ecological impact of poor grease management part 2


             Fat, Oil, and Grease (FOG) in wastewater are primarily discharged from restaurants, food processing establishments, industrial food facilities, and residential kitchens. What exactly is FOG? FOG is the byproduct formed due to cooking processes such as frying, sauteing, baking, etc. Most common components of FOG are –deep-fried food, baked goods, dressings, gravy, etc. The primary state of FOG can be liquid or solid depending on the nature and saturation of the complex hydrocarbon chains.  The detrimental effects of FOG on the wastewater industry and the environment are elucidated in detail in literature. The major ecological impact of FOG is blockage of sewer pipes which causes Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO). In the US, over 47% of SSO is due to FOG. SSOs can make their way to the water sources and contaminate the source making it hazardous to use (be it for recreational or drinking water purposes). The mechanism of FOG deposition in sewer pipes is demonstrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Mechanism of FOG Deposit in Sewer Lines

Part 1 of this article titled ‘ECOLOGICAL IMPACT OF POOR GREASE MANAGEMENT’ discussed some of the ecological impacts of poor FOGT management. This article is a continuation (PART 2) of the topic and further provides a detailed overview of the impact of poor FOG management practices to industry and environment overall. It is part of a new venture by Sani Service on Bio Cleaning of Sewer Pipes. Sani Service are now exclusive distributors of Smart Pipe Systems product viz. Biotroop BL-20 for efficient, ecological, and sustainable cleaning and maintenance of sewer pipeline across the UAE especially in commercial applications such as restaurants. Sani Service has been at the forefront of providing their customers with the latest products and sustainable and ecological disinfection treatment technologies available for Sewer Pipe Maintenance and Cleaning. With “Bio Cleaning of Sewer Pipes”, Sani Service aims to educate and inform their customers about the fundamentals of residential and commercial grease trap maintenance and sewer disinfection treatments primarily used for preventing pipe blockages and odor control. 



Figure 2 – Major Impacts due to Poor FOG Management


  1. Waste Deposit Formation
    Earlier, it was believed that FOG blockages are solely due to the cooling of the fatty acids which restricted the flow of wastewater causing Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO). However, recent studies have demonstrated that FOG deposits are basically metallic soaps. FOG removed during cleaning of the dishware mixes with cleaning products resulting in saponification (conversion of fat to soap in presence of alkali). The wastewater in sewer pipes contains metal ions and the strong oxidizing agents hydrolyse the FOG to form metallic soaps.
  1. Fire Hazard
    FOG is primarily produced from cooking activities that use oil at high temperatures. These oil and grease are the primary source of kitchen fires. Ignition of hot cooking oil can easily cause fires. FOG or grease residue is highly combustible at 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Malfunctions of grills or deep fryer can easily result in such high temperatures. If the kitchen vents are not cleaned and have FOG accumulated on their surface, this can result in fire hazard.
  1. Beach and Tourism
    FOG generated from commercial and residential kitchens can get accumulated in ventilation hood, drainage pipes via dishwasher and floor drains and eventually in sewer drains causing blockages and sanitary sewer overflows (SSO). These overflows can enter rivers, lakes, streams, and impact water quality. The bodies of water cannot be used for their designated purposes such as fishing, swimming, etc. thus impacting tourism. SSOs can also result in beach advisories or closures. 
  1. Increased Capital Investment
    One of the major detrimental impacts of FOG accumulation is on the sewer lines. FOG can clog drains and sewers and impact overloading of wastewater treatment plants. Consequently, these issues can lead to increased operation and maintenance cost. Approximately, 25% of the sewage treatment costs can be attributed to the FOG component.



The several ecological impacts due to poor FOG management discussed in above section can be resolved by using microbial-based cleaners. Smart Pipe Systems’ Biotroop BL-20 is a microbial cleaning product specially used for maintenance of sewage pumping stations, sewers, pipes, etc. The Biotroop BL-20 helps to:

  • Prevent blockages, odor nuisances, and insect problems
  • Maximize condition and life cycle of plumbing equipment
  • Reduce the costs for plumbing sewer maintenance
  • Reduce the environmental damage from chemical cleaners and wastewater discharges
  • Provide an ecological alternative to heavy-duty chemical solutions
  • Develop new ecological products and solutions aiming for sustainable future



  1. Otsuka, T., Yamazaki, H., Ankyu, E., Ahamed, T., Anda, M., & Noguchi, R. (2020). Elucidation of the mechanism of blockage in sewer pipes by fatty acid deposition and suspended solid. Water, 12(8), 2291.
  2. Wallace, T., Gibbons, D., O’Dwyer, M., & Curran, T. P. (2017). International evolution of fat, oil and grease (FOG) waste management–A review. Journal of environmental management187, 424-435.
  3. Klaucans, E., & Sams, K. (2018). Problems with fat, oil, and grease (FOG) in food industry wastewaters and recovered FOG recycling methods using anaerobic co-digestion: a short review. In Key Engineering Materials(Vol. 762, pp. 61-68). Trans Tech Publications Ltd.
  4. Husain, I. A., Ma, A. F. A., Jammi, M. S., Mirghani, M. E., Zainudin, Z. B., & Hoda, A. (2014). Problems, control, and treatment of fat, oil, and grease (FOG): a review. Journal of oleo science, ess13182.

Meet our Expert

Abhiram Satyadev has a Masters in Environmental Engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an MBA at Goldey Beacom College in Delaware, and a Masters Certificate in Standford University. He is currently the Program Manager, Potomac Interceptor for the DC Water in Washington DC. He is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the Potomac Interceptor Renewal Facility specifically including operation and maintenance of odor control facilities at the Potomac Interceptor Sites and Pump Stations.

With Saniwater, he serves as our Research and Development Consultant and provides us with insights into his expertise. Read his section here on to know more.