Drainage experts Lanes for Drains have launched a campaign to create an army of “fatberg fighters” to help tackle the growing problem of blockages caused by washing fat, oil and and grease (FOG) down the sink.

Following on from a recent Channel 4 programme “Fatberg Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers” – in which it featured alongside Thames Water – the Leeds-based wastewater utility services provider is aiming to engage schoolchildren aged from five to 11 about the causes of fatbergs in sewer networks, as well as the potentially deadly bacteria posing a health threat to Londoners.

The documentary analysed the contents of a super-sized fatberg at London South Bank weighing the equivalent of 11 double-decker buses and spanning two football pitches.

It also follows Severn Trent’s recent announcement that it will be trialling its so-called “magic potion” across a range of sites to tackle FOG build-up in its sewer network. The Coventry-based water company deals with 50,000 blockages a year, 70 per cent of which are due to homeowners and businesses washing fats down the sink.

Lanes Group director Andy Brierley said the company wants to complement the excellent work being done by utility companies in their education programmes. He said: “While they tend to take a broader approach, we want to laser-guide our effort on challenging the root causes of fatbergs.

“We recognise we need to challenge a prevailing culture and set of behaviours about what people put down drains, and that this is a long-term task.”

Brierley added that through working with schools the company is engaging with young people about the “huge damage, disruption, and cost caused by the wrongful disposal” of substances such as fats down sinks and toilets.

Commenting on the campaign, a spokesperson for Thames Water said that getting the message out there that fats must not go down the sink was vital, particularly to children who were their consumers of the future.

“It’s great to hear our partners at Lanes helping to spread that message in addition to our education programme which engages with approximately 21,000 children every year.”

Last week Thames Water held its first ever H2innovOvate in London and awarded summer internships to five winners of its ultimate innovation challenge, part of a “Shape Water”  campaign to reduce fatbergs and promote water efficiency.

Lanes for Drains has worked with three primary schools in the North West of England and now plans to roll-out the lessons across the UK.

Key talking points include the importance of healthy drains and sewers, what fatbergs are and how they are formed, why they are dangerous and the three ways to combat them in the home.

It excavates around 400-600 fatbergs each month. Some of the most unusual things it has found in Britain’s sewers have included Teletubbies toys, boxer shorts, dentist tools, a shovel, a traffic cone and nail varnish bottles.

Launched in 1992 by Lane Group PLC, the independent UK drainage specialist operates 32 depots and water utility hubs and was responsible for clearing the notorious 250 metre-long “monster” Whitechapel fatberg which weighed over 130 tonnes and cost around £1 million to remove.


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