Grease has had its chips


North East homes and businesses are being asked to ‘chip in’ to keep the region’s drains clear as National Chip Week begins today.

Images shows: (front to back) Frances Ord, co-owner of Colmans of South Shields with Greg Lee of Northumbrian Water and Richard Colman-Ord of Colmans.

With a quarter of all potatoes grown in Britain being fried into chips; that’s 1.6 million tonnes or enough to fill 4,000 jumbo jets, Northumbrian Water has chosen this week to highlight the damage that can be caused by pouring cooking oil or fat down sinks or drains.

In the week that more than 4.8 million portions of fish and chips will be sold around the country, the water company has teamed up with food outlets around the region to launch a new webpage ( specifically designed to help businesses dispose of kitchen grease correctly.

Grease may not look harmful while it is being poured into the sink, but as it cools it can congeal, harden and restrict the flow of wastewater. This can eventually lead to pipes becoming blocked.

Fat-filled drains are a huge problem for Northumbrian Water. In 2012 the company spent more than £145,000 clearing more than 2,000 blockages from greasy liquids such as cooking oil, butter, meat fats and sauces being poured down sinks or drains.

And as Greg Lee, a technical advisor from Northumbrian Water explains, the damage to a business and the environment can be equally costly.

Mr Lee explains: “Blocked drains can lead to odours or flooding around premises and owners often have no choice but to close down while the sewers are inspected and appropriately remedied. We are hoping our simple advice will help to reduce the number of blockages, threat of flooding and unwanted publicity for food outlets in the North East.

“As well as blocking drains grease can also pollute local streams and rivers when poured into surface water drains or gullies.”

One of the businesses backing Northumbrian Water’s campaign is fish and chip restaurant and takeaway, Colmans of South Shields, which was recently awarded Les Routiers Sustainable Restaurant of the Year 2013 for its environmentally-friendly approach.

Frances Ord, co-owner of Colmans, said: “Every business has a responsibility to look after the environment and responsible waste collection is nothing new to us. For the last twenty years we have been completely sustainable, which has led to a number of awards, and responsible waste collection is a key part of this.”

Businesses are advised to arrange for waste fat, oil and grease to be taken away by a waste carrier registered with the Environment Agency. They will provide a Waste Transfer Note with every collection. A search facility to find registered waste carriers and other advice can be found at

Homeowners enjoying Chip Week can also keep their local neighbourhood blockage-free by scraping grease from pans, plates and roasting trays into a bin before washing up. If cooking oil remains in liquid form when cool, it can be soaked in kitchen towel or poured into an empty container and put in a bin.

For further information please contact Leanne Clough on 0191 301 6733.

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