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What is a ‘fatberg’?

The term ‘fatberg’ has become prominent in many newspapers over the last few years, often coined in press releases from utility companies up and down the UK. But what exactly is one?

Fatberg at Museum of London
Piece of a ‘fatberg’ at the Museum of London Source: Wikimedia CC

Not too dissimilar to an iceberg (which of course abruptly stopped the Titanic), suitably a fatberg can stop the course of items travelling through sewage pipes. It is some of these items that cause the issue in the first place.

Apart from the ‘natural’ substances for which toilets are designed for, unfortunately a number of other objects are known to make it underground.

There are a number of key culprits according to utility company Anglian Water. Domestically, fat, oil and grease are the worst things to put down the kitchen sink. Sanitary waste and wet wipes are also just as bad when they are put down the loo. Significantly, over half of the blockages Anglian Water encounter are purely down to these ‘unflushables’.

The problem doesn’t end there either. 10% of these unflushables unfortunately make their way onto our beaches, some of which ending up in our oceans as unavoidable sea pollution.

The simple solution is that everyone takes responsibility for what leaves each household. So what can go down the toilet? The answer is simple, the three Ps: Pee, Paper (of the toilet kind) and Poo (of course). It can be that simple.

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