Grease Trap Regulations

grease recycling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

The entities governing grease traps

Understanding grease trap regulations can be a challenge. Regulations appear in state laws, state EPA regulations, the plumbing code, regulations from sewer commissions, and health departments and municipal regulations. The best option is to look at laws specifically governing a municipality which may be water and sewer commission or municipal regulations. D&W Alternative Energy can help keep you in compliance in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Grease trap regulations in NJ

This section will review grease trap regulations in Elizabeth NJ as an example for all of NJ.  Elizabeth charges the city health department with the responsibility to manage discharges and to inspect grease traps.

Elizabeth NJ requires the installation of a gravity based grease trap/interceptor for all food establishments. A hydromechanical interceptor can be installed if the food service establishment (FSE) demonstrates to the health department that there is not sufficient space for a gravity type interceptor. All FSEs are required to implement best management practices to reduce the quantity of fats, oils and grease released to the public sewer system. All FSEs shall be required to apply for and be given a fats, oils, and grease (FOG) control license.


Standard design requirements apply to gravity interceptors as well as hydromechanical traps. The standards are found in the NJ State Plumbing Code.


Gravity interceptors must be pumped every 30 days or within the 25% rule. No Fats, oils, grease nor water can be returned to the interceptor once removed. All establishments must use a licensed rendering and disposal company.


Every year your establishment must at its own expense have a licensed plumber inspect your grease trap and produce a written report on its functioning.The city can also inspect traps and interceptors if it receives a complaint, if there’s a change of ownership, if you do any new construction or on any inspection schedule they prefer.


All facilities must keep a written log of all maintenance activities including repairs, pumping and cleaning and employee training sessions. Records must be kept onsite for a period of one year and available for inspection.

Best Management Practices

Your restaurant must implement best management practices to cover:

The regulations prohibit putting solvent or emulsifiers into the grease trap that allow cooking oil to flow through the trap and into the municipal water system. Do not include this as a practice.


City inspectors can arrive at any time. Violations are considered unlawful. You must correct any cited violations immediately. You can also be charged for any city cleanups or repairs required as a result of unlawful discharge of oils from your restaurant. The fine for the first violation is $250. After that, the fine goes up to $500 for the second and any subsequent offenses.

Grease trap regulations in PA

Cheltenham township, near Philadelphia, has well documented grease trap interceptor guidelines and will be used as an example of PA grease trap regulations. 

Cheltenham requires fat, oil and grease (FOG) permits for any entity discharging to the POTW (publicly owned treatment works). Cheltenham employs a dedicated FOG administrator to oversee compliance with the ordinance governing discharge. 

You must clean and pump your interceptors/traps in accordance with the 25% rule which states that the depth of oil and grease (not wastewater) must never exceed 25% of the operating depth of the device.

Initial FOG permits are $500 and annual renewal of permits cost $250.

All FOG producers can be inspected at any time by the discretion of the FOG administrator.

Producers must keep onsite a log of all cleanings that includes: date, time, volume, location of disposal, who did the cleaning and waste hauler’s manifest. This log must be submitted with each request for a renewal of the permit.

Overflowing an interceptor on the sewer line is strictly prohibited. Should such an overflow occur the producer is responsible for the cleanup and must subit a written report to the FOG administrator.

Violations can result in suspension of the FOG permit effectively shutting down a restaurant.

Should a FOG inspector need to sample any producer’s FOG, the cost of sampling will accrue to the producer.

Violations and penalties

Failure to clean a trap or interceptor results in an NOV (notice of violation.)

Failure to clean a receptor 2nd time is a fine of $250, 3rd time and more is $500. Failure to clean 4 times in a year is a $1000 fine. Failure to keep and maintain a log of cleaning and hauler manifests can range from $100 to $500.

Failure to notify the FOG administrator of an overflow immediately is punishable by a fine of $1000.

Deliberately pouring FOG into the sewer system can result in a fine of $5000.

Grease Trap Regulations in DE

New Castle County, Delaware has taken an interesting and innovative approach to creating and managing a FOG program to stay in compliance with EPA and state regulations.

The county has contracted with BMP Compliance Group to create and help administer its FOG program. There is not an ordinance with a large number of rules, violations and penalties. BMP describes its FOG platform for managing FOGs like this:

Our interactive FOG BMP keeps you compliant while also saving you money and preserving the environment. FOG BMP makes staying compliant easy and practical by providing a web-based platform that provides your staff with employee training modules, compliance tests and critical kitchen signage. These tools make for easy organization and application of your best management plan.

BMP in New Castle County, DE produces a Best Management Practices poster for use in all Food Service Establishments. It highlights what FSEs need to know and practice such as:

And many other best practices.

The web platform tracks compliance and highlights pending violations for both the restaurant and the municipal authority. It automates cleaning recording submission electronic cleaning logs. Each time a restaurant has their grease trap pumped they submit a record to the BMP system. A visit by a municipal grease trap inspector would also be recorded there.

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