The story behind Vetstrijder

Waternet is the only water company in the Netherlands that covers the entire water cycle. This includes water for natural areas and human consumption, and wastewater treatment.

Their mission is to get the most out of water. They work towards solutions that are beneficial for both people and society in cooperation with residents and entrepreneurs to ensure a safe, clean and sufficient water supply.

In addition to that, Waternet is constantly looking for new ways to work towards a green future. And that’s what it does with SwiftComply: to reduce the amount of FOG in their sewer system.

Our VETSTRIJDER ambassadors

Supported by

Horeca Nederland

SwiftComply

Waternet

Knowledge is power

In order to tackle the problem, we need to understand the nature of the problem. That’s the reason why we need to map the details about food service businesses and their grease trap practices.
Initially, above-ground data on the number of restaurants, cuisine type, and contact details are collected using specially designed cloud-based software. This information can then be expanded by finding out more about onsite FOG management from site visits, telephone interviews, and digital questionnaires.
The questions being asked include: Is a grease-trap installed? Is it correctly sized and fit-for-purpose? How is it maintained? Where is the captured grease disposed to?
The data build up a valuable resource for the utilities to tap into, facilitating much more robust decision-making around effective FOG education programs with local business owners. The FSEs are also provided with digital and paper educational materials promoting best practice kitchen grease management.
Jeroen de Boer of Waternet has high expectations and expects the maintenance costs were reduced significantly in the long term.

Amsterdam and its social challenges


Startup in Residence is an innovative collaboration between the municipality of Amsterdam and startups. The program invites Dutch and international startups to come up with innovative solutions for social challenges. After two successful programs in 2015 and 2016, the City is fortunate to relaunch the program in 2017. The third edition of Startup in Residence ran from December 2017 to June 2018, with the closing event Pitch Forward Day in June. The collaboration between Waternet and SwiftComply was established during this third edition of Startup in Residence.

Michael witnessed first-hand how the outdated regulatory processes and fragmented relationships between restaurant owners and regulators hindered virtually all clean up efforts.

After achieving a staggering 95% fatberg reduction in Dublin, Michael set about creating a tool that would revolutionalize how cities around the globe collaborate with the foodservice industry to solve this problem.

Since then we have worked with cities across North America and Europe to tackle the growing fatberg problem. 

A shared responsibility

Waternet does its part to clean up the sewers, but the catering industry bears responsibility too for the correct discharge of wastewater.
The sector association of the catering industry KHN.nl has also joined the project and encourages its members to install a grease interceptor as part of sustainable kitchen management.

Vetstrijder: over 1,000 registered food service establishments in Amsterdam

Since the call from Waternet at the end of April 2019, more than 1,000 catering businesses have registered as a Vetstrijder. That is about one in four restaurants in Amsterdam.
This means that the remaining 75% of the catering businesses still have to register.
By registering on vetstrijder.nl, catering establishments create an account on the Waternet portal at SwiftComply. Even those who do not have a grease interceptor are asked to sign up for this, as we want to know what the adoption rate is of the grease removal devices throughout the hospitality sector. An additional advantage for those who do have one is that they will automatically be notified via SwiftComply when the fat separator is due for pump out. The entrepreneur can use this portal as an online log of their grease interceptor.

Source control

Interview with Jeroen de Boer (Waternet)

I am interviewing Jeroen de Boer in Waternet’s garage where the fleet of high-pressure vehicles is parked.  Jeroen and his team use this everyday to clean the sewers and release them from potential fatbergs. He explains how food service businesses can help.

Jeroen de Boer, Stichting Waternet

Where does FOG come from? “FOG comes from everywhere, but a few large contaminants come from the catering industry. The catering businesses are supposed to have a grease interceptor so the fat is captured and prevented from entering the public the sewer system. But if they do not have one, or if it is poorly maintained, it’s very likely that the FOG ends up in the sewer.”

What’s SwiftComply’s role? “SwiftComply reached out to us with a beautiful solution to register grease interceptors, en how often these are being pumped out. We are firm believers that this can contribute to the solution to reduce FOG in the sewers, and eventually to reduce the cleaning costs.”

What’s the approach in the past to help food service businesses to reduce fat in wastewater? “Waternet offered pump out services to the food businesses. Since 15 years ago these pump outs are taken care of by the private sector. Since then we don’t really have a clear view of the overall grease situation. Because of SwiftComply, we started to think this all over. And SwiftComply came up with the beautiful euphemism: vetstrijder, which became the name of the campaign.”

How did you see the food service industry evolving in Amsterdam? “The number of inhabitants has increased and, in connection with this, also the catering businesses. Outdoor eating is becoming more often. The load on the sewers is increasing, more waste is being used. We also see a strong increase in wipes, but especially in FOG. Also, rain showers have become more extreme. This puts more pressure on the sewers. That’s why it is important that the catering companies know what they are doing and that they are informed about maintaining the grease interceptor correctly.”

Do you see a particular attitude against the use of grease interceptors? “There is an unfamiliarity about grease interceptors. The fat goes away in the gutter, so you can not see it anymore. So what happens underground in Amsterdam? The awareness isn’t there yet. You can see that sustainability is a hot item all over the world, including in Amsterdam. And I believe that this can also increase sustainability. Fatfighter (vetstrijder) can thus contribute to the familiarity of the problem. We are now looking at the approach differently within Waternet. Instead of increasing the frequency of cleaning, we are now going to address the cause of the problem. SwiftComply now offers a means to address the cause: ensuring that less fat enters the sewer system. Together we will encourage companies to empty grease traps more frequently.”

The FOG issue is a structural one. Do you see a mental shift after the campaign? “I’m not sure if this will change the mentality, but sustainability is nowadays a hot item. I notice that everyone is talking about it, so I think it will contribute. And I hope it will become a permanent part of every hospitality entrepreneur and that they will use SwiftComply.”

What’s in it for the catering entrepreneur that the sewers are clean? “Do you see these vehicles here? Well, these vehicles are out on the streets every day, they might just stand in front of an operating and packed restaurant. Well, if the sewer is being clogged then, you need to clear your restaurant and close the doors. If the restaurant manager maintains its grease trap as he should, he can easily prevent these situations. Preventing the fat from entering the sewers will reduce the chance of blockages. That’s a win-win for everybody.“

Do you consider yourself a fat fighter (vetstrijder)? ”You can call me a vetstrijder, yes.  I do not throw the fat from my pan through the sink. I wipe the fat off my pan with a paper tissue. In a professional catering business that is, of course, difficult because it is used very often, but for that, they have a grease interceptor. And here at Waternet, I have my teams cleaning the sewers day after day.”  

Since the call from Waternet at the end of April 2019, more than 1,000 catering businesses have registered as a Vetstrijder. That is about one in four restaurants in Amsterdam.
This means that the remaining 75% of the catering businesses still have to register.
By registering on vetstrijder.nl, catering establishments create an account on the Waternet portal at SwiftComply. Even those who do not have a grease interceptor are asked to sign up for this, as we want to know what the adoption rate is of the grease removal devices throughout the hospitality sector. An additional advantage for those who do have one is that they will automatically be notified via SwiftComply when the fat separator is due for pump out. The entrepreneur can use this portal as an online log of their grease interceptor.

Contact

Become a Vetstrijder and join the fight against underground fat

#vetstrijder

SwiftComply

Singel 452, 1017 AZ Amsterdam

+31 20 893 2900

waternet@swiftcomply.com

Waternet

Korte Ouderkerkerdijk 7

1096 AC Amsterdam

0900 9394

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