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"Food waste disposal systems are like fly-tipping" says water company

South West Water (SWW) has condemned food waste disposal (FWD) initiatives as fly-tipping and irresponsible in a letter to councils in its area. The company urges them not to encourage residents to dispose of macerated food waste down the sink because it causes blockages in the sewerage system increasing the threat of flooding and pollution. The companys concerns about blockages increased with the release of the Environmental Impact Study of Food Waste Disposers for the County Surveyors Society (CSS). SWW said that it included dubious claims about waste particles remaining free flowing in the system. It also said that field studies and other research referred to in the CSS report do not relate to the UK and take little account of the impact on drains and sewers. SWW also said that much of the £1.5 million spent annually preventing and dealing with sewer blockages is incurred removing consolidated fat, oil and grease, largely emanating from food waste. SWW sewerage management strategist John Perriam said: The CSS report dismisses the water industrys view out of hand. Greater consultation with the industry should have been conducted. The author should have contacted individual companies, he has not really looked at anything in the UK, he mostly looked at examples from other countries. If local authorities (LAs) use this type of food disposal to divert waste from landfills to help meet waste targets, water companies could face blockage problems. SWW is calling for more UK specific research into the effects of FWD systems. Perriam confirmed that other water companies share this view about putting food waste down the drain and said that the Water Research Centre is setting up a project to conduct independent research into the effects of FWD. He also told MRW, that blockages from food waste required even more careful disposal, than when they were first put down the drain as they are contaminated with sewerage. Perriam added: Food waste is preventing sewers from doing the job they were designed for, which is safeguarding public health. In an attempt to buy time while more research is done, SWW told LAs: We would urge you not to follow the Sink Your Waste example set in Hereford and Worcester, which is given prominence in the CSS report. We regard this as fly-tipping and irresponsible at a time when the water industry is trying hard to reverse the trend of treating sinks and toilets as receptacles for all kinds of waste.

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