Waste disposal

Restaurant fined £5,500 for blocking sewers with fat

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Landmark case: Café Saffron was fined for blocking sewers
Landmark case: Café Saffron was fined for blocking sewers

Related tags Toilet

A Staffordshire restaurant has been fined almost £5,500 after fat, oil and grease blocked sewers, meaning local businesses could not flush their own toilets.

Water company Severn Trent Water is urging pubs to think about how their waste is disposed after the water company successfully prosecuted Café Saffron for blocking sewers with fat, oil and grease.

The case is only the second example in the UK and first for Severn Trent making it a landmark decision.

Managing director of wholesale operations for Severn Trent Water Emma FitzGerald said the verdict was a milestone for the company and urged businesses to consider the disposal of fats, oils and grease and how its impacts customers.

Sewer system impact

She added: “Small businesses and food outlets like local takeaways and pubs may not understand the impact they are having on the sewer system as they might not be affected directly by the fat causing a blockage.

“It’s not just fats, oils and greases that can cause an issue, any food waste disposed of in the sink or toilet can cause the sewers to block.

“This is totally avoidable and in this case, simply installing a small grease trap [plumbing device to intercept greases and solids before they enter a wastewater disposal system] could have prevented the situation.”

Discharging anything into the sewer that may interfere with the free flow of the water is an offence under section 111 of the Water Industry Act.

Flushing issues

Several reports of blockages and complaints from neighbouring businesses about not being able to flush their toilets were made and Café Saffron was found to be the cause of the blockage with fat used in cooking being put down the drain and into the sewer where it caused the blockages.

Severn Trent visited the venue on different occasions, sent letters and had conversations with the site owners requesting grease traps to be installed and warning of the consequences but they refused.

FitzGerald added: “Legal action is a last resort for us but our customers shouldn’t have to suffer because of the actions of one business not following the rules and ignoring our advice.”

Last year, the Sustainable Restaurant Association urged chefs to do more to tackle food waste​ to help save businesses money and benefit the environment.

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