The Problem

It is no news for anyone (we hope), that plastic pollution has become one of the biggest environmental issues. 

Some facts about plastics:

  • Dirty plastic and plastics with food residues CANNOT be recycled. Therefore, it is best we make sure all recyclable plastics get washed before they end up in your recycling bin. This will give your plastic a chance to be recycled.
  • Plastic that chicken comes in cannot be recycled due to the bacteria contamination.
  • Small animals, like little fishes, at the bottom of food chain absorb chemicals and micro-plastics as part of their food. These small animals are then eaten by larger animals that increases the concentration of chemicals and carries on the micro-plastic. Therefore, animals at the top of hierarchy of food chain have contamination levels million times higher than the water in which they live. This causes serious health problems for people who get contaminated by eating this food, containing micro-plastics. Fish that comes from water full of bacteria will have a serious effect on consumer’s health. 

Fats, Oils and Grease

 

A major type of household waste are fats, oils and greases  or ‘FOGs’.  In liquid form they may appear suitable to pour down sinks and drain. However, when they start to cool down they solidify and harden causing them to stick to the walls of both your drainage pipes and public sewers. Over time these build up on the walls of the pipes causing the flow of water to be restricted, resulting in blockages, these are often referred to as ”Fatbergs”.  During periods of heavy rainfall these blockages can make the sewers back up, causing untreated wastewater to  overflow into our streams and the sea.

Some ways to dispose of your Fats oils and grease:-

  • Pour any oil or grease that is left in pans into a sealable container that can then be placed with your other household rubbish, or
  • Leave to congeal and harden before scraping off with disposable kitchen towels.
  • All utensils, plates, pots and pans should be scraped and wiped with a disposable kitchen towel before washing them in the sink or putting them in the dishwasher. The kitchen towels should be disposed of in a bin and put out with the household waste.
  • Have a sink strainer to prevent any food waste or peelings from entering your drains.

Did you know?  
Pouring boiling water or bleach down your sink to dissolve fats, oils or grease does not work?

The Chemistry, in simple terms, is that water, hot or cold, is a polar solvent, and fat is a non-polar molecule which means that they just don’t mix together. One way to think of it is the + and – on a magnet.  Water at boiling point is not strong enough on it own to break down solidified fats.  Bleach is generally an oxidising agent which acts by clumping proteins in bacteria together, or it works on the molecules in colour to whiten them.  Solidified fat is a different chemical combination that is not affected by household bleach.

Help Keep our Sea Clean

 

Plumbing and Wrong Connections

 

This picture shows pollution in the stream in Alexandra Park after heavy rainfall in May 2013.  It is caused by untreated water entering the surface water drains rather than the foul (sewer) drain due to wrongly connected pipes further up the water course. 

In Hastings we have two ways that waste water, including sewage, is removed from our properties. There is the sewer pipe, known as a foul water pipe, which is connected to the sewerage treatment plant where it is cleaned before release into streams and finally the sea. The other pipe is the rain water or surface water pipe, water from this system goes directly into the streams and out to sea without treatment.

If the waste water pipes in your property, ie from your bath, sink, toilet, dishwasher or washing machine are plumbed into the rain water pipe or surface water pipe, rather than the sewer or foul water pipe the water and other materials are not treated and eventually end up in the sea in their raw state. Pipes that  are not connected correctly are known as missed connections and are one of the causes of pollution and increased bacteria rates in the sea. The illustration below shows the correct plumbing for your property.  If you are in doubt

It is a serious issue and the responsibility of the property owner to fix a wrongly connected pipe, there is a fine of up to £20,000 if pipes are found to be incorrectly connected. The storm drains that are in the road are also not connected to the sewer so if paint, engine oil or other substances are poured in here they will find their way out to sea without being treated.  These items need to be taken to the local tip or recycling centre or call your local council for advice on the proper place the dispose of them.

Take a look at the following blog from Jon Snowden, Technical Adviser – Pollution Prevention at the Environment Agency.  It clearly shows what happens when pipes are not connected correctly. Don’t Ruin the Summer – call a plumber!   Help Keep our Sea Clean

Pollution in Alexandra Park from wrongly connected pipes - May 2013

Ragging

 

When items other than toilet paper or human waste are flushed down the toilet or washed down a sink they are pushed into the sewer or rain water pipe and we forget about them.

Unfortunately in a lot of cases these items stick in the pipes and form clusters of material which become good places for bacteria to grow and ultimately block the pipes. If an item says it is flushable, such as baby or adult wipes it does not necessarily mean that it is bio-degradable and even products that are bio-degradable can take many years for this to happen.

Because the material tears and hangs down in strips it is known as ragging.

Also, during heavy rainfall, the flow of waste water within the public sewers increases vastly and diluted wastewater is sometimes allowed to flow directly into other waterways and out to sea in order to prevent our homes from being flooded. If the wrong things have been flushed they can also escape, polluting our local stream and out to the sea.

The only things that should be flushed down a toilet are toilet paper and human waste, everything else should be put in a bag in the bin. 

The wrong things to flush or put down our sinks are:

  • Sanitary towels, tampons, panty liners, incontinence pads
  • Condoms, bandages, cotton buds, Contact lenses
  • Baby, facial and cleaning wipes
  • Razor blades
  • Medicines, syringes or needles.

Why not consider:

  • Placing a bin in your bathroom
  • Dispose of personal items within allocated bins in public toilets
  • Things like waste food stuffs, coffee grains etc should be put scrapped into the bin.

Take a look at the national water industry campaign – Bag It and Bin it campaign:

https://www.water.org.uk/home/resources-and-links/bagandbin

Ragging

Help Keep our Sea Clean