Unblocktober 2023: Why businesses should stop the block

Unblocktober is the first nationwide campaign that is focused on improving our drains and sewers and saving our oceans.

Wave has been a proud supporter of Unblocktober since it began in 2019, and we’re committed to raising awareness of this impactful campaign and how we can all change our habits to improve our environment.

You can make a difference

Businesses, particularly those in the food industry, can benefit from making small changes that will keep our sewers healthy. When we put things down the drain that don’t belong there such as fats, oil and greases (FOG) among many others, they contribute to sewer blockages, or ‘fatbergs’, that can sometimes be so severe they shut down roadways and cause business closures or loss of water supply. When our waterways become blocked, it can lead to:

  • Foul waste flooding: This is when the drains overflow, causing sewage to flood the surrounding area. It can disrupt residents and often local business premises too, leading to property damage and unsafe conditions.
  • Pollution: Plastics and other non-biodegradable items can make their way into our environment, which contributes to the growing pollution crisis.
  • Excavation and repair: When large fatbergs need to be broken down and removed, this can sometimes take weeks to complete. While repairs are being carried out there may be roadworks or loss of water supply, leading to the need to close your business.

Depending on the size or location of fatbergs, they can affect the day-to-day running of your business or lead to a loss of profit if you’re forced to temporarily close. That’s why it’s vital that we all do our part to keep our drains, sewers and oceans clean.

So what can your business do to help?

The most obvious answer to the problem is to change our behaviour and make sure we’re only putting things down the drain that our sewers are designed to handle. Only the 3 Ps should be flushed, and try to keep food waste from being washed down the sink too. Some items such as wet wipes say they’re flushable, but they still can cause blockages, so make sure they’re also going in the bin. A lack of awareness is usually what leads to fatbergs, so make sure your employees know what can go into our sewers and what can’t.

Unblocktober and the food industry

If you’re a catering business, restaurant, takeaway or other type of business that uses and disposes of fats, oils and greases (FOG), it’s a requirement that you ensure it's stored properly and picked up by an authorised collector. If FOG makes its way into the sewer it can harden and attract other items, leading to fatbergs that can be bigger than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. These are extremely costly to remove and will cause problems for everyone further down the line.

You also might be able to sell your FOG and make a profit, benefitting the environment and your bank account. After being used in the food industry FOG can be recycled for the generation of energy and biodiesel, animal feedstock, and improving soil quality.

It’s time to act

Every time something is flushed or goes down the drain that doesn’t belong there, it puts a strain on our sewer systems. In order to protect our waterways, rivers and oceans, and the future of business growth, we must act now to change our habits.