Grease Busters – Commercial Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Specialist

Environmental impacts from kitchen exhaust hood cleaning and how to prevent them

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Today with this blog we aim to create an awareness among the food service industries about the potential environmental impacts that the kitchen exhaust hood cleans could cause and inform them about the best management practices to prevent those environmental impacts.

We all know that a kitchen’s exhaust hood system function is to extract the heat, smoke and grease in the air that emerges from cooking food, ovens, stoves, grills, fryers etc. Through the period, grease accumulates on all the components of the kitchen hood’s exhaust system. A regular scheduled maintenance and cleaning of the kitchen’s exhaust hood system is needed for the system to perform efficiently and prevent any fire threats. Professional cleaning, which involves special scrapers, approved chemical cleaners, and water is performed by registered cleaning companies that adheres to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), MFPA (Malaysian Fire Protection Association) and IKECA’s (International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association) standards.

Moreover, the job does not here. Only the members of the international organizations mentioned above are advised to apply environmental regulations to dump the wastewater resulted from the cleaning process. As a professional cleaning company, we do not and cannot dump the wastewater just anywhere since it contains cleaning chemicals and grease compounds, hence a proper disposal is required. It is, in fact, illegal and is punishable by law to dump or discharge the polluted water; directly or indirectly, onto the land that could drain to a storm water system. This system leads or drives all the clean water from the storm drains, roads, ditches, catch basins, parking lots etc. to water bodies off the state’s land. And as a food service industry it is necessary and of utmost importance that you hire a professional kitchen exhaust hood system cleaning company that knows and follows these laws and standards.

Best Practices

The following are the best management practices which we are now sharing with you as we aim to spread good knowledge, to help you prevent illegal discharges, help keep the environment clean and reduce pipe blockages associated with hood cleaning:

I· Remove as much grease as possible, by mechanical means (scraping) prior to treatment with cleaning chemicals and rinse water. This scraped off grease in a solid form can be disposed of in the trash.

II· Collect the wastewater that is generated from the cleaning process. When possible, we use a licensed hauler to dispose-off the wastewater with utmost care. If not feasible, the wastewater may also be discharged in the drains that are connected to a working grease interceptor. However, many food service industries only have grease interceptors that are sized for normal day-to-day use, and as such may not be able to handle the large volume of grease generated during the hood cleaning process. Excessive fats, oils and grease can cause major problems by clogging sewer pipes. Talk with the wastewater superintendent from the local wastewater treatment facility of the area to reduce the impact of this process.

III· The chemical cleaner used to remove the grease can cause the wastewater to reach corrosive levels (high pH). The pH of wastewater must typically remain between 5.0 and 12.5 (check with the management of the wastewater treatment facility for specific limits). Recent tests have shown that some wastewater can have a pH of 12 or greater. A pH greater than 12.5 is considered hazardous and is not allowed to be discharged to any drain, instead it must be managed as hazardous waste. Using a simple pH test strip will determine the pH level.

Steam and hot water pressure washers can be used to eliminate or reduce the use of chemical cleaners and the associated pH spikes. It should be borne in mind that no wastewater can be discharged into a storm drain. And dilution is not an acceptable method of treatment. 

IV· The rooftop section of the exhaust system must also be cleaned. Any greasy or alkaline wastewater generated on the roof must also not be allowed to enter the roof drain. As mentioned above, these drains are usually connected to storm water systems or discharge to the ground. It is illegal to discharge this wastewater directly or indirectly into the storm water system.

V· The rooftop section of the grease hood should have a covered grease collector to capture the excess grease. These collectors should be emptied (to solid waste or rendering) and cleaned on a regular basis, otherwise grease may overflow onto the roof and eventually end up in the roof drain. Grease is considered a pollutant and cannot be discharged via the roof drain. It can be disposed of in the trash.

VI· Filters should also be cleaned frequently in an area where the wastewater is drained to a sink.

VII· Food service establishment owners or managers should oversee the hood cleaning process.

VIII· Train the staff how to dispose-off the grease.

Food service owners or managers should be aware of the practices used by the hood cleaning company that they hire. At Grease Busters we provide every detail of the kind of work our clients should expect from us, followed by a detailed report to our clients, after our service. Some cleaning companies may not be aware that it is illegal and punishable by law to dispose-off the grease and related wastewater into a storm drain. Hire a reputable company that has appropriate certifications and is knowledgeable about environmental regulations.

This piece is written with the aim to share knowledge for the better of our own environment. Grease Busters believes that we all need to play our part in making this world a better place for us and our children in future to live in. For more information on this topic, you may contact the local wastewater treatment facility in your area.

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