Various pollutants can originate from restaurants and enter our local waterbodies through storm drains. The main pollutants that come restaurants are:
- Food and waste particles
- Grease from equipment and washing
- Cleaning chemicals and solvents
- Trash and debris from dumpsters
- Mop water
I'm sure your wondering why food and waste particles are considered pollutants. Besides attracting flies and giving off a bad odor, decaying organic matter negatively affects water quality. Decaying organic matter uses up dissolved oxygen in streams and bays, limiting the amount that's left for fish and other aquatic organisms.
In addition to negatively impacting surface waters, oil and grease can also affect sanitary sewer lines. Oil and grease dumped into sink drains or sanitary sewer drains stick to the inside of sewers, causing sewer backups into homes, businesses, or the street. For more information, visit the City of Longmont's Fats, Oils, and Grease Reduction Program website.
Best Management Practices for Restaraunts
Handling oils and grease
- Never pour grease down the sink drain, floor drain, storm drain, or toilet. Save used oil in sealed containers for recycling.
- Have a disposal receptacle on site for grease only and inform employees of the importance of keeping this separate from the dumster and other restaurant waste.
- Scrape food wastes off of utensils, plates, pots, and pans and dispose of in the garbage before cleaning. Always wash kitchen mats, garbage containers, grills, and utensils over an area that is connected to the sewer system.
Cleaning dumpster areas
- Pick up litter and never wash down the dumpster with a hose.
- Return leaking dumpsters to the leasing company as soon as possible, as the liquid leaking out of the dumpster will eventually reach a storm drain.
- Sweep paved areas instead of using a hose.
Cleaning up spills
- Control the spill, then use dry methods for spill clean up. Rags or an absorbent material such as cat litter can be used to pick up liquids or grease.
- If the substance spilled is hazardous, consult the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to determine how to dispose of the absorbent or rags used to clean up the spill. This material may have to go to a hazardous waste disposal site.
- Do not pour wash or mop water into a storm drain or parking lot. Install an industrial size sink for these types of wastes.
- Buy the least toxic cleaning products available. Look for products that are phosphate-free, non-toxic, biodegradable, and/or free of ammonias, dyes, and perfumes.
- Use grease traps or interceptors and clean them regularly. Keep a log on site of cleaning dates for these products.
For more information, check out San Mateo's Stormwater Pollution Prevention Guidelines for Food Handling Facilities. The booklet contains a checklist of BMPs that can be used in any restaurant.