There are two main sets of rules most food service establishments and food processing facilities must follow when it comes to grease.
Local water and sewer authorities enforce the primary regulations covering grease from kitchens.
Most local water treatment systems require pretreatment of wastewater that contains grease. Pretreatment is the preferred regulatory approach, because it lessens overall costs for the water treatment authority (and its customers) and treats grease as close to the source as possible.
Pretreatment keeps grease from commercial kitchens out of the sanitary sewer system.
Pretreatment regulations usually require a grease capture device be plumbed between the kitchen wastewater lines and the public sewer system.
For many years, the main option was a concrete grease trap. But in the last few decades innovators like Thermaco have engineered new systems that are more efficient and easier to maintain than concrete traps. These also provide more installation options.
Grease interceptors must be periodically emptied. If they malfunction, they must be repaired or the facility risks violating pretreatment regulations.
Restaurants, cafeterias and other facilities that discharge grease into the sewer system can be fined and potentially are subject to other penalties.
The plumbing code usually has specific regulations about how to handle fats, oil and grease in kitchen effluent.
The Uniform Plumbing Code was developed in the United States and is the standard across the country. It is also the basis for plumbing codes in some other nations.
The plumbing code is focused on keeping grease out of sewer systems, but also addresses the safety and effectiveness of a facility's plumbing. For grease traps, the plumbing code will typically dictate how these are connected to sources of grease in the commercial kitchen.
Plumbing codes have been developed to ensure that traps can't back flow and cause sewage or wastewater to flow into clean, potable water. They may also include methods for determining how much capacity a commercial kitchen grease trap needs. Capacity is usually rated at gallons per minute or liters per second.
Plumbing inspections are usually part of the building inspection. For new construction as well as renovations, local authorities usually perform a plumbing inspection before the facility can open.