Grease: a big problem for our sewers
When fats, oils and grease from food preparation and cooking get put down the drain it can plug drain lines and eventually clog the region's sewers. Grease build-up in sewers causes them to overflow, potentially damaging homes, businesses and the environment.
A lot of the grease in our sewers comes from commercial kitchens where grease interceptors (or grease traps) are not properly maintained or are too small.
How grease gets in the sewer
What is a grease interceptor?
A grease interceptor (or grease trap) is a device that separates fats, oils and grease from wastewater and stops it from entering the sewer system. All commercial kitchens whose wastewater contains fat, oils and grease are required by law to have a properly installed and maintained grease interceptor.
Installing a grease interceptor
A grease interceptor should be:
- connected to any fixture that generates grease
- properly sized - if it is too small it will fill with fats, oils and grease too quickly and will not do its job
- equipped with a sampling point so that the quality of liquids leaving the interceptor can be tested
- accessible - so it can be inspected and so you can maintain it.
Maintenance - what's required
Grease interceptors only work if they are properly maintained. These are the key maintenance requirements for grease interceptors. For additional information, please see the official bylaw listed at the end of this section.
- The depth of fats, oils, grease and solids (combined together) must not be more than 25% of the total liquid depth of the grease interceptor
- Have grease interceptors fully pumped out by a waste management company:
- when fats, oils, grease and solids are more than 25% of the total liquid depth OR
- every 90 days (whichever occurs first).
- inspect all components that may affect its proper operation.
Wastewater leaving the grease interceptor should not exceed the regulation limits of:
- 300 mg/L of oil and grease
- 600 mg/L of solids
This should not be a problem if the grease interceptor is properly maintained.
- Don't use enzymes or other agents that will allow grease to pass through the grease interceptor and go into the sewer.
- Keep a record of inspection and maintenance activities. Have two years on hand and available for inspection.
- Have someone on site who can open the grease interceptor for inspection.
Food Sector Grease Interceptor Bylaw No. 268, 2012
Grease and Commercial Kitchens Brochure
Non-compliance with regulations
Commercial kitchens that do not meet the regulations may be subject to re-inspection fees of up to $300. Certain violations - such as not having a grease interceptor - now carry a minimum fine of $2,000.
Information and assistance
If you operate or service a commercial kitchen, Metro Vancouver can help you with the technical requirements of the regulation, including advice on installing and maintaining your grease interceptor.
For more information contact:
Metro Vancouver Information Centre