South West Water and Environmental Compliance and Services (ECAS) are working with around 1,300 businesses across the South West to highlight the issues that can be caused by the wrong things being poured down drains, in a bid to stop sewer blockages across the region.

Around one in five blockages in the South West are caused by fat, oil, and grease combining with wet wipes and leading to homes, businesses, gardens and the environment being flooded with sewage. These blockages are also responsible for around 60% of internal flooding and 80% of external flooding incidents.

South West Water clears over 7,000 blocked sewers each year at a cost of around £4.4 million, which can have a knock on effect to customer bills.  

The water company called for customers and businesses to take the Unblocktober pledge last month to improve the health of our drains, sewers, watercourses, and seas, but is reminding everyone of the importance of keeping fats, oils and greases out of sewers whatever the time of year.

Andrew Blake, Project Manager at South West Water, said: “Christmas is just around the corner and around 10 million turkeys are consumed each year in the UK at this time. With a medium-sized turkey producing around three-quarters of a pint of fat, this equates to over 5.6 million litres of fat – enough to fill over 18,500 bathtubs.  

“This causes serious issues in our sewers and with some businesses producing fats, oils and greases on large scales all-year round it’s vital we work with everyone in the region to change their behaviour when it comes to what we put down the drain.”

During visits to over 1,300 businesses, like pubs and restaurants, environmental inspectors from ECAS talk to kitchen staff about their daily practices and check how they’re currently disposing of fats, oils and greases so the team can recommend actions to take, such as installing grease-trapping equipment.

One of the many businesses across the South West joining the fight against sewer blockages is St Austell Brewery, which has over 180 pubs across the region.

Patrick Gribbin, Head of Property at St Austell Brewery, said: “We’re committed to running a sustainable operation, and that’s why we’ve contacted South West Water and invited them to review our kitchens to recommend any further actions we can take to prevent fats, oils and greases from entering the network.”

Marc Downes, Operational Performance Manager at ECAS, said: “We know the average pub restaurant might generate around 1,750 litres of fats, oils and greases yearly. That’s why we’re so encouraged by responsible food businesses, like St Austell Brewery, who care about their impact on the environment.”

Food establishments who want help and support on how to dispose of fats, oils and greases responsibly can find useful tools here: