Restaurants and cafes on notice about washing food waste down the drain

Released 07/06/2018

Restaurants and eateries in Belconnen, Hawker, O’Connor, Manuka, Kingston, Civic, Braddon and Dickson were recently targeted as part of ‘Operation Scrap’ – a proactive program aimed at educating food businesses about their environmental and health responsibilities.

Narelle Sargent of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said the proactive inspection program had come off the back of troubling reports of eateries tipping liquids such as cooking oil, detergents, waste water and chemicals as well as washing food waste down the drain or into the stormwater.

“What people, and businesses, need to remember is that stormwater feeds directly into our creeks, lakes and rivers without treatment – therefore what you put in it, ends up in our water systems,” Mrs Sargent said.

“Contaminants such as waste matter, detergents, and chemicals pollute our stormwater which in turn pollutes our waterways resulting in dying fish, algae overgrowth, unsafe swimming conditions, and unsightly (and smelly) creeks, lakes, and rivers.”

Mrs Sargent said inspectors from the EPA and the Health Protection Services (HPS) inspected 25 food businesses in the recent audit, which looked at cleaning practices, kitchen maintenance, cleaning facilities, and any pollution at the rear of restaurants - particularly around stormwater pumps.

“Unfortunately officers found evidence of kitchen waste in the stormwater sumps at the rear of three businesses,” Mrs Sargent said.

“These businesses were provided with information about keeping the environment around their premises clean and were verbally warned to stop putting waste down the stormwater system – we expect to see improvements next time we visit or further regulatory activity will be taken.”

On-the-spot-fines of up to $200 for individuals or $1,000 for businesses can apply for acts of stormwater pollution.

HPS Executive Director Conrad Barr said that in addition to stormwater pollution, inspectors found minor maintenance issues at three businesses, including full cooking oil waste bins and an area of flooring which required resealing.

“The items identified in the inspection reports will be followed up with the businesses concerned as part of normal business,” Mr Barr said.

“Many of the businesses inspected were surprised to find Government officers doing inspections at night, however, ‘Operation Scrap’ is an example of government agencies working collaboratively behind the scenes to keep both the environment and the community safe.”

The next audit will take place later in the year.

Food businesses wanting more information about food safety standards can call the HPS on 6205 1700 or visit and the community can report any incidents of stormwater pollution to the EPA on 13 22 81.

***Image of water waste found poured down a stormwater drain attached.

- Statement ends -

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