To address the fallout of paying $600,000 a year to flush out fatbergs from its wastewater system, the City of London, Ontario, has found success and clog prevention in its Your Turn collection cup campaign that allows citizens to store and return kitchen fats, oils and grease known as FOG.
Since the FOG collection program began in 2013, some 100,000 32-ounce paper cups have been distributed across London’s 381,000 service residents, saving the City more than $100,000 each year on its drain diversion program.
It’s also been fatberg free for three years.
“People want to do the right thing but it also has to be convenient,” Barry Orr, sewer outreach and control inspector for the City of London, said in a statement to media.
In collaboration with London, Montreal-based FluksAqua, an online Q&A forum for water utility professionals, has elevated the program’s profile and generated actual collection opportunities across Canada and the U.S., stoking interest as far away as Australia and Japan.
December marks the rollout of the national campaign for Your Turn FOG cup collection across Canada. Ontario municipalities like Sarnia, Windsor, Sudbury, Oxford County, Middlesex Centre and Central Elgin are already on board. Your Turn has spoken to municipalities in Alberta and New Brunswick about joining the program as well.
“Water professionals regularly discuss their frustration at the expense, environmental damage and safety issues of maintenance personnel caused by fatbergs on our forum,” said Dr. Hubert Colas, President Americas, FluksAqua. “With easy access to Your Turn cups through our campaign, we’re hoping municipal water professionals will sign up to bring cups to their communities and residents will use the Your Turn cups to keep FOG out of the water system.”
B.C. is also in talks to join the YouTurn program, but has also taken independent efforts to fight fatbergs through a public awareness video ad campaign. Metro Vancouver says it spends some $2 million every year to unblock FOG from its sewer pipes.
Over the 2017 U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, FluksAqua conducted a national survey of some 1,000 residents to determine how many people were safely disposing of their potential fatberg add-ons. The survey found more than 80% properly disposed of Thanksgiving FOG by using a separate container, while the remaining 20% admitted to dumping down a kitchen drain or toilet.
Of course, just one month prior to the survey, a fatberg in Baltimore was responsible for a sewer overflow that discharged 4,542 m3 of sewage into Jones Falls. Furthermore, the City of New York Department of Environmental Protection, which services over eight million customers, reports that 71% of 2016 sewer backup complaints were fatberg related.
Municipalities and water professionals can sign up for the Your Turn program by visiting www.getyourfogcup.com. There is a nominal cost for production of the collection cups, but free distribution of the containers to consumers.