The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 30 percent of restaurants are complying with regulation for the correct disposal of fats, oils, and grease (FOG). Most likely this is because the process is complex and often difficult to understand. Fortunately, food service businesses can get help from the Tempe Grease Cooperative, an innovative partnership between the City of Tempe and restaurants in city limits. Currently, TGC works with nearly 200 restaurants to prevent FOG from going into the sewer system.
The FOG Problem
It’s easy to not think about what happens to things that go down a sink drain, but the old “out of sight, out of mind” adage does not apply to fats, oils, and grease. When FOG gets into the sewer system, it starts to build up along the pipes causing blockage. When pipes are blocked, wastewater cannot get through which may cause the system to overflow into streets and parking lots. Blockages cost a lot of money to clear, creating a headache for both the city and restaurants. Proper management of FOG ensures that the sewer system is functioning and that the waste is being disposed of in a sustainable way.
The Benefits of working with the Co-op
One of the top reasons that businesses enroll in the TGC is that it saves them money. Because the co-op works with a large amount restaurants they are able to approach a service provider with a collective contract and get a lower price. Most restaurants save an average of 15 percent by working with the TGC. There is no cost for restaurants to join the co-op.
Another benefit of working with the TGC is a peace of mind. The TGC team advocates on behalf of restaurants throughout the process and ensures that FOG is being properly managed by the pumpers. In addition, if their device has a problem, the TGC will work with the restaurant and service providers to get it fixed. The co-op also offers the option to receive a credit for the yellow grease, a valuable commodity that is re-used as a sustainable fuel source.
The Tempe Grease Cooperative is a stellar example of a forward-thinking partnership that takes much of the burden of compliance off a restaurant owners shoulders and helps the city avoid costly repairs. It saves restaurateurs time, money and headaches. The co-op has been receiving plenty of recognition, including the 2016 Governor's Award for Arizona's Future from Arizona Forward’s Environmental Excellence Awards.
For more information please visit their website or contact the office at 480-350-2847.
Written by Stephanie Hoyt. If your business is interested has sustainable practices in place or if you would like more information on how to go about being more sustainable, email [email protected].