Grease Trap Cleaning for Commercial Kitchens: Tips for Efficient Waste Management

In the Portland area, grease traps and proper grease trap maintenance are a requirement. Any commercial kitchen must have one installed and cleaned regularly. Is that enough or are there other things you can do to manage your kitchen’s waste effectively?

Why Is a Grease Trap Important?

A grease trap captures food particles and fats, oils, and grease (FOG) to prevent them from getting into the pipes that leave your business and go to the sewers. When too much FOG enters a pipe, it can solidify and cause blockages. 

There are two forms of grease traps, and while they may seem different in appearance, they do the same thing.

Gravity Grease Interceptors: These grease traps are Installed outside either above or below ground and have a large tank where wastewater enters from sinks and dishwashers. Grease floats to the surface of the wastewater and solids sink to the bottom. The water trapped between those two layers travels through pipes to the sewers. Generally, this is the recommended system for kitchens that have a lot more wastewater and FOG as the tanks can be as large as 4,000 gallons.

Hydromechanical Grease Interceptors: A hydromechanical grease interceptor handles 20 to 50 gallons a minute and is usually indoors above or below the floor. It works the same as the other.

No matter which you have, you need to make sure it meets the capacity of wastewater that your kitchen produces. It must also be cleaned and inspected using the requirements listed in your permits. If you fail to do that and too much FOG ends up in the sewers, you face hefty fines. You could also cause wastewater to back up in your kitchen, which can be devastating to your business. Plus, a blockage that impacts the community faces negative publicity.

The Best Ways to Make Kitchen Waste Management Effective

It’s important to ensure you have a working grease trap, but that’s just one part. You need to maintain it. How do you maintain your grease trap in a commercial kitchen? Work with a grease trap cleaning business and get regular cleanings and inspections established.

Do you use a lot of cooking oil? If you fry foods, talk to the company about a used cooking oil container for recycling oil from your fryers, too. You’ll get money for the oil you recycle, and that can help pay for your grease trap cleanings.

Dishwashing Tips:

Whether you wash dishes by hand or use a dishwasher, scrape as much food from the pots, pans, and dishes you’re about to wash. Use a paper towel to wipe away excess oil. If there’s a lot of oil left, you might be able to reduce the amount of oil you’re using in recipes or cooking processes.

Cooking Oil Recycling:

If you do use a lot of cooking oil, recycle it. Don’t mix it with things like cat litter or solidifiers and throw it out. After processing 100 pounds of used cooking oil, the U.S. Department of Energy states you end up with about 100 pounds of biodiesel and 10 pounds of glycerin. 

For commercial kitchens that use a lot of cooking oil each day, there are systems where you can drain used cooking oils directly to containers for recycling and pump in fresh cooking oil from tanks. It makes recycling simple to manage and saves a lot of time.

Food Composting:

Compost food scraps. Turn vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, tea bags, and unbleached paper products into compost that can be used in gardens. If your commercial kitchen doesn’t need the compost, offer it to community gardens. It’s a good way to keep food waste out of the landfill and give back to the community.

Look into composting programs that accept dairy, baked goods, and meat scraps, too. That keeps a lot of food waste out of your grease trap and trash, which is much better for the environment.

Renewable and Environmentally-Friendly Kitchen Products:

If you do use items like food packaging and storage containers, use as many renewable items as you can. Bamboo grows rapidly and is compostable. Styrofoam and plastic aren’t. Biodegradable sandwich bags are better than petroleum-based plastic bags. Straws made from potato starch are better than those made from plastic.

For cleaners, aim for products that don’t contain harsh chemicals. While it may not matter to you, think of the wastewater treatment plant that has to work harder to ensure chemicals are out of the treated water before it is released back into the area’s lakes and rivers. The longer it takes to clean the water, the more energy is consumed.

Those are a few of the best ways to manage waste coming from your commercial kitchen. But, a grease trap remains the most important, and it’s one that you must keep clean and in good shape with regular inspections. If repairs are recommended, don’t put them off. 

State Laws Require Commercial Kitchens to Keep Grease Traps Cleaned

It’s required that you have your grease trap cleaned and maintained by a grease trap cleaning specialist. You can’t just pick a friend of your cousin’s brother-in-law to do it as cheaply as possible. The pumping company that cleans and maintains your grease trap must be a member of the Regional Preferred Pumper Program and file paperwork with the city every time a cleaning and inspection is completed.

Northwest Biofuel is a Preferred Pumper and offers many benefits. Rely on us for:

  • Assurance that 100% of the used cooking oil and grease are recycled with a local biodiesel company.
  • Complete satisfaction with the work we do or you don’t have to pay.
  • Discounts on bundled services, such as used cooking oil recycling and grease trap cleanings.
  • The lowest price around or it’s free.
  • Service without getting locked into a contract.
  • Scheduling that matches your preferred times and days.
  • A thorough cleaning and inspection to notify you of any issues that are arising.

What happens during a grease trap cleaning? First, you’ll set a time and day for the company to come out. They’ll access the trap and pump out any sludge, FOG, and wastewater. Any stuck-on grease is cleared using tools and a pressure washer. Once the system is clean and emptied, it’s checked for any cracks or problems. If repairs are recommended, you’ll be notified.

Water is rinsed down the drain to make sure the flow rate from sinks is correct. If not, the lines may need to be cleared. It’s also checked to make sure water is flowing out of the grease trap correctly. Paperwork is completed and filed with the city. You get a copy for your records, too.

Reach us online with live chat, call, or email us to set up a time to come clean and inspect your grease trap. We’re happy to answer your questions or help you understand the full range of services that Northwest Biofuel can bundle to help you save more.