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News Centre > Thursday 27 September 2018

Guernsey Water raises concerns over increased promotion of food waste disposal units

blocked manhole

Since the introduction of the island's new waste disposal strategy Guernsey Water has some concern about retailers using this as an opportunity to sell kitchen waste disposal units (macerators) to discard food waste.

Margaret McGuinness, water quality manager of Guernsey Water said:  "Although considered by some as potential money-saving devices and possibly more hygienic than food waste caddies, macerated food and fat can combine in a customer's own wastewater pipes resulting in expensive blockages.  More widely they will cause more problems in the island's sewer network.

Mrs McGuinness explains that the use of a food disposal unit in the kitchen sink may sound a sensible option but food waste cannot simply be disposed of down the drain.

Following the maceration of food, fat can combine in the pipes necessitating expensive blockage clearance and worse, increasing the risk of foul flooding to downstream properties as well as providing excessive nutrient loading in the sea, which may impact on the island's marine environment. 

"Our sewers need to be resilient in times of heavy rainfall and the loss of flow capacity caused by fats, oils and grease (FOG) can be significant.  Even if the food is liquefied the FOG in it congeal and bind to other solids in sewage such as wipes and risk blocking the sewer causing sewage flooding and pollution.

"Our aim is to ensure that our operations do not have a detrimental impact on the water environment which is particularly important for our island community as water plays such a vital role in our everyday lives.  It is therefore important that customers understand the environmental impact of the way that they use water and help us to protect the environment by using water wisely and keeping FOG and other non-biodegradable products out of our sewers.

"We encourage customers to continue to be responsible when it comes to dealing with their waste.  The only things that should be disposed of into the wastewater system are the three 'P's' (poo, pee and paper)," said Mrs McGuinness.

Guernsey Water considers the free collection of food waste for the purposes of energy recovery a good thing and much more sustainable going forward.

"We borrow water from the environment by collecting it from streams, storing it in reservoirs, treating it, supplying it to customers, collecting it again once it has been used, then conveying it to Belle Greve Wastewater Centre where it receives preliminary treatment before returning it safely to the environment again.

"This means we are responsible for the water cycle from source to sea and should be mindful of the impact our actions can have on it," she said.

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