Ecotip – Fighting fatbergs

Fighting fatbergs

The word “fatberg” was coined after the discovery of a 130 tonne blockage in the sewers of Whitechapel in 2017. They are caused by a build-up of wipes, fats, oils and grease in the sewers. Fatbergs have increased in frequency recently, causing around 300,000 sewer blockages each year, at a cost of around £100 million. In addition, they cause sewer flooding in thousands of homes and businesses and damage to the environment.

Sewers designed only for water, toilet paper and human waste are increasingly used as a rubbish bin. The sewer system simply cannot cope.

Small changes in our kitchen and bathroom habits could make a big difference.

Do not put any of the following down the kitchen sink: oil, margarine, butter, fat, cooking sauces and food.

Wipe pans with kitchen paper and dispose of this in your bin before washing them. Cooking oils and fats need to be left to cool and solidify before being disposed of in the bin. Larger volumes of cooking oil can be taken to your local civic amenity site for recycling into fuel.

Do not use the toilet as a disposal system – wet wipes and nappies are major causes of sewer blockages and should be disposed of in your dustbin.

For more information, see

Phil Chatfield

Based on information from The Environment magazine, September 2019 and Thames Water