City of Tempe, AZ for the Alliance for Innovation
2016 J. Robert Havlick Award for Innovation in Local Government award winner
Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) from food service establishments is the cholesterol of our nation’s arterial sewer infrastructure, resulting in between 40% and 50% of all sewer blockages and overflows in the United States and significant structural deterioration of our infrastructure. Established regulatory approaches are poorly-structured to address the issue due to problems with enforceability and accountability, resulting in reported compliance rates of less than 30% of regulated restaurants in some of our nation’s largest communities.
The Tempe Grease Cooperative (TGC) is the first program in the world in which a municipal sewer authority offers community restaurants the opportunity to opt-out of the city’s regulatory program for FOG and instead enlist the sewer authority to broker both pricing and service quality for compliance requirements from third-part vendors on their behalf. The City benefits by guaranteeing compliance with grease interceptor cleaning and maintenance requirements through contract management instead of regulatory enforcement, and member restaurants receive both buying discounts and compliance assurance under collective contracts that are established and administered by the City. As a result, partners in the TGC collectively establish more sustainable plumbing and sewer infrastructure for retailers and the region as a whole, create a more livable city by reducing odors and sewer overflows at member facilities and community-wide, and begin to develop opportunities to utilize FOG waste as renewable energy feedstock, all at a lower cost for member businesses, the City, and its utility rate payers.