PFM 20 9 - Page 16

Lanes Leads Way Educating Next Generation of
Fatberg Fighters
he UK's largest independent
drainage specialist is taking a
new approach to teaching the
British public about the dangers of
blocking drains and sewers - by creating an army of ‘Fatberg Fighters' in
our schools.
Lanes Group Plc is making a long-term
commitment to work with schools to
educate children about the damage
caused by disposing of fats, oils and
grease (FOG) down the nation's drains.
FOG combines with other everyday
items, most notably disposable wipes,
which are wrongly flushed down toilets
in their millions each year, to create
fatbergs that block sewers, and contribute to serious environmental harm.
Lanes Group's ambitious Fatberg Fighter campaign aims to engage with
school children aged 5 to 11 to challenge this behaviour, because they are
often more receptive to new ideas and
The company, which operates 32 depots and water utility hubs across the
UK, and was responsible for clearing
the notorious Whitechapel fatberg in
London for Thames Water, has worked
with qualified teachers to create a lesson plan about fatbergs.
Children will be invited to become ‘Fatberg Fighters', and champion best practice, both at school and at home, in
preventing the blocking of drains and
Lanes Group Director Andy Brierley
said: "We recognise we need to challenge a prevailing culture and set of
behaviours about what people put down
drains, and that this is a long-term task.
"By working with schools, we can engage with our youngest citizens about
the huge damage, disruption, and cost
caused by the wrongful disposal of
FOG, and wipes in particular, down
sinks and toilets.
"We want to complement the excellent
work being done by utility companies in
their education programmes. While they
tend to take a broader approach, we
want to laser-guide our effort on challenging the root causes of fatbergs.
"Campaigns to make people wear seat
belts in cars and prevent dogs fouling
pavements show how hard it can be to
change behaviours. But these efforts,
ultimately, have been successful. We
want to help do the same to dramatically
reduce the harm caused by fatbergs."
Lanes Group has developed and tested
its Fatberg Fighter concept by working
with three primary schools in North West
England. It now plans to offer the lesson
to schools across the UK. Key learning
points covered include:

healthy drains and sewers

What fatbergs are, and
how they are formed

Why fatbergs are dangerous and harm the environment

The three things to do to
fight fatbergs in the home
Children take part in a range of interactive experiments to show the mechanics
of how fatbergs form, allowing teachers
to explore concepts such as water flow,
emulsification, and the effect of temperature on different materials.
They also get the chance to discover
what is truly 'flushable', by creating their
own makeshift toilet flushes in big buckets. At the end of each lesson, pupils are
presented with Fatberg Fighter certificates.
The fatberg lesson has been enjoyed by
pupils, and praised by teachers.
Ben Tagg, a Year Five teacher at Altrincham Preparatory School, said: "The
next generation must be more environmentally-focused than any that have
gone before them. Educating children
about the effects of what they do in their
own home will be vital in developing a
sense of a ‘shared Earth'.
"Many of the pupils in the class didn't
fully understand the sewer and drains
network before the lessons, with many
openly admitting that they take it for
granted. Only when discussing what
would happen if our drains and sewers
were blocked up did they fully appreciate their value to our society.
"Since the lessons, the students have
informed me that they have now been
watching their parents, when cooking,
to see how they dispose of their waste
oil and fat."
Jenni Ringland, Foundation Stage
Leader at Bacup Holy Trinity Stacksteads Primary School, said: "It's important to educate children about what can
and what can't go down our drains, as
they will hold on to that knowledge, and
take it into adult life.
"The children said they would go home
and tell their family what they can put
down the drain. They really liked receiving their certificates. They're fully
fledged fatberg fighters now."
Tom Waldron, a teacher at St Joseph's
Catholic Primary School Reddish, said:
"The lesson has already made a difference. Two parents said their children
came home telling them all about it, and
quite a few of the children have already
said they've stopped putting wipes and
other things down the toilet."
As the wastewater network services
maintenance partner for Thames Water,
Lanes Group cleared the 130-tonne fatberg in Whitechapel, in a process that
took nearly two months, attracting the
interest of millions of people around the
The company's drainage engineers respond to thousands more drain and
sewer blockages caused by FOG and
wipes across the UK every month.
Andy Brierley said: "We want to empower the nation's children to teach their
families how to protect our drains and
sewers, because many of us adults
haven't done a very good job of preventing fatbergs so far."
A video from the day's lesson at Bacup
Holy Trinity Stacksteads can be found
Lanes Group:
Reader Reply: 209111


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