EXCLUSIVE: Anglian reaps cost savings from FOG clean-up
Anglian Water has managed to cut sewer blockages by 75% thanks to a simple marketing campaign.
Straightforward messaging targeted at foodservice businesses like takeaways and restaurants, as well as households, cut blockages caused by fats, oils and grease (FOG) "dramatically".
The campaign, called 'Keep it Clear' is now being rolled out to other areas and could end up saving the company thousands, if not millions of pounds.
Water and sewerage companies in the UK deal with about 200,000 blockages a year; in some parts of the country three-quarters of these are caused by FOG.
The clean-up costs run into millions of pounds, according to the Sewer Network Action Programme, and are ultimately passed on to customers through wastewater bills. Blockages can also lead to pollution with untreated sewage overflowing into rivers and streams.
The 'Keep it Clear' campaign, created by Corporate Culture, cut blockages from an average of eight a week to just two in target areas. The initiative was piloted from July to October in Peterborough, with 120 businesses receiving visits and an information pack detailing how to deal with FOG responsibly.
Businesses were advised to have all used oil collected by a registered waste carrier and to separate food waste rather than to wash it down the drain. The pack included a list of registered waste carriers and information on the need to keep receipts from waste companies. Some 11,000 households also received a mailshot.
Anglian Water programme manage Rachel Dyson told edie that the campaign will now be rolled out to other areas with high numbers of sewer blockages in a bid to further reduce the £8m a year the company spends on clean-up costs.
"The industry has focused on FOG for a number of years now, but we looked in detail at what our technicians were finding when they were called out to blockages and carried out extensive research among businesses and households.
"What we found is that businesses couldn't afford a half day's training, even if it was free. What they wanted was clear guidance on what they should and shouldn't be doing. It is all about common sense."
Dyson said that is was important to engage with customers and change behaviour so blockages didn't occur in the first place. Environmental health officers at local councils are dealing with "lots of other things", she explained, and it was very difficult to determine who is causing blockages.
"You need to do the leg work for your customers, but there is a willingness to change behavior. This campaign has dramatically reduced the blockages [in the target areas]."