What are the standards for grease traps in the UK?

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You may have been recently told that you must put in a grease trap or grease management system but with so many options out there how do you know if the desired grease trap is approved?

The UK Building Regulations (Part H 2.21) states the following;

2.21 Drainage serving kitchens in commercial hot food premises should be fitted with a grease separator complying with EN 1825-1 and designed in accordance with EN 1825-2 or other effective means of grease removal .

En1825-1 and 2 refer to a European design standards for grease traps. A grease trap under European design criteria is typically a large tank that goes into basements or into the ground outside. When it is 25% full of grease it should be emptied. The guideline in the standard states that grease traps should be emptied at least once a month or preferably twice a month.  Ask your supplier to send you a copy of the certificate that shows the model they are quoting meets EN1825 1 and 2. This is the easiest way to ensure the product you install is compliant.

So what does “best available technology” mean then?

This addition to the regulation is what makes everything so confusing. Any manufacturer can argue that they have designed the best alternative to an EN1825 grease trap, so how is this regulated? The answer is it is not properly regulated in the UK. EN1825 grease traps are big and oftentimes space can’t be found to locate them. An alternative solution is therefore required.  In other countries restaurant operators can apply to use alternatives or to be granted exemption from requiring anything. In the UK the regulation is less stringent and the decision to use a certain type of system is usually made with little if any consultation with local water authorities.

So, I can simply put in what I like?

Not necessarily.  If your premises has a grease trap or system that is not EN1825 approved then inspectors could check the effluent quality coming from the restaurant to assess whether or not the alternative grease management system is working. This is however very difficult to control as inspectors would need to visit regularly. An inspection is usually only done when a blockage is reported near a restaurant. Some water authorities in the UK have started to make reference to other international standards such as those used in America and Canada.  It is very likely that in the near future the UK’s major water authorities will be much more proactive in monitoring what is installed.

And if I want to use enzymes or bacteria instead of a grease trap?

Currently there are no international or UK standards governing the quality and effectiveness of bacteria and enzymes.  Various associations and industry experts are working on developing one. In other countries bacteria dosing systems are permitted as long as a grease trap is installed first. Currently, there is no opposition to using dosing systems but it is likely that the effectiveness of such systems will be better scrutinised in future.

So where do grease removal devices fit into all this?

A grease removal device is usually a small under sink grease trap that has the ability to remove the trapped grease on a daily bases. These units are usually tested to American standards which allow for higher flow rates in smaller capacity grease traps.  Some of the main water authorities in the UK are already adopting American standards in the absence of a practical UK standard for undersink grease traps. With Britain leaving the European Union the opportunity is available to create a UK standard that takes into account the space constraints that make the European standard impractical in the streets of 21st century cities.

And what about the Grease Guardian?

The Grease Guardian has been tested under all American standards as well as against the efficiency section of the EN1825 standard. The unit is recognised by the major UK water authorities as an effective system for managing grease.

In one sentence, what should I do check the grease trap I am about to buy is approved?

Ask your supplier to send you their approvals for the model you are installing and have your local water authority confirm it is accepted in their jurisdiction