Richmond targeted for launch of anti-grease campaign

Metro Vancouver focusing on city's homeowners and restaurants, as they are among worst in region for disposing of cooking oils

Four areas of Richmond are being targeted as a test case for a Metro Vancouver campaign to tackle grease clogging up the region’s sewer system.

With Richmond having some of the worst incidents of grease build-up in recent years, Metro Vancouver will use the next eight weeks to “educate” residents and businesses about how to properly dispose of their kitchen oils and grease during the pilot launch of the “Wipe it, Green Bin it” campaign.

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Around $2 million is spent every year by the region to deal with “fatbergs” — created when grease goes down the drain and binds with wipes and other debris, quickly hardening into a congealed, gluey mass — that are ruining plumbing and sewers in Richmond.

To combat the growing glut of grease in Richmond’s sewers, Metro Vancouver will be targeting the city with advertising on public transit and online, as well as face-to-face outreach at supermarkets.

The regional authority will also be working closely with the BC Restaurant Association in order to ascertain what practices its Richmond members have in place to deal with grease and what barriers they have for stopping the grease getting into the system.

Metro Vancouver will also be distributing to restaurants outreach materials — so they are clear on the requirements on how grease should be handled — as well as conducting focus groups in Richmond with local restaurants, to further test out the tools that are in place to stop the grease getting into the sewers.

“Many people are unaware that putting grease down the drain can cause big problems, not only for their own plumbing systems but also for our municipal sewers,” said Darrell Mussatto, chair of Metro Vancouver’s utilities committee.

“Incorrect disposal clogs sewers, causes overflows into the environment and costs us $2 million annually in repairs.”

An easy way to wipe up grease, oils and fats is with a paper towel and then place it in your green bin.

Nearly all homes and food service businesses in Metro Vancouver now have organics recycling programs that accept oil and grease. Large volumes of oil from deep fryers must be collected and taken to specialized recycling depots.

Visit Metro Vancouver Recycles online to find the nearest location. 

The “Wipe it, Green Bin it” campaign will also feature public tours of the Lulu Island Waste Water Treatment Plant.

The City of Richmond will measure grease build-up in four areas of Richmond to monitor the results.

Commercial kitchens are regulated through a Grease Interceptor Bylaw.

Residents of Metro Vancouver municipalities can find out more about correct grease disposal online at MetroVancouver.org.

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