The Global Movement

The Global Movement

From "garburators" in Canada, to "garbage grinders" in Japan, food waste disposers go by many names around the world. Regardless of what you call them, researchers across the globe agree that disposers don't harm sewer systems—and can provide environmental benefits. From down under in Australia to New York City, view the reports below to learn more.

The Netherlands: The Environmental Aspects of Food Waste Disposers

Food waste disposals were relatively unknown in the Netherlands in 1996 when Dr.ir. J. de Koning and Professor ir. J.H.J.M. van der Graaf, two researchers from the Section of Sanitary Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, studied their effects on sewer systems and wastewater treatment. The study concluded that using food waste disposals had a negligible impact on both. Eight years later, Dr.ir. J. de Koning conducted a follow-up study at the request of the Dutch government, specifically to quantify the impact of food waste loading on the Dutch sewage system and the effects of disposal use on the biological wastewater treatment process. The study, which ended in July 2004, reinforced that impacts to the sewer system and wastewater treatment facility were negligible. In addition, de Koning concluded that the use of food waste disposals could improve the current system for the collection of kitchen, garden and food waste, specifically in areas where separate collections had been abandoned because of environmental and/or economical reasons.

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Australia: Assessment of Food Disposal Options in Multi-Unit Dwellings in Sydney

In 2000, the city of Sydney, Australia investigated the impact of food waste disposals in five areas: environmental, economic, microbial risk, social acceptance, and technical/operational for sewer systems. For each area, the impacts of disposals were compared to that of collecting food waste with municipal waste and sending it to landfills, centralized composting of food and garden waste, and home composting. Among the report's conclusions was that 1) the disposal of food with municipal waste was the least satisfactory of all options, 2) individual composting was environmentally ideal, but impractical for multi-unit dwellings, and 3) using a food waste disposal was second best for energy consumption, global warming potential, and acidification.

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Japan: Report on the Social Experiment of Garbage Grinder Introduction

To fully assess the potential benefits and impacts of food waste disposers, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport—in cooperation with the Hokkaido government and Town of Utanobori—designated Utanobori as the subject area for a disposal field test conducted over four years, from 2000 through 2003. The study assessed the impacts of disposals on the sewage system, solid waste collection, local economy and environment, as well as the daily lives of town residents. Findings of the technical report on the study included that popularization of disposers would cause no changes to the environmental burden, and that the convenience benefits coupled with the cost of purchasing and installing a disposer provided an excellent value compared to any changes in administrative and disposal operation costs.

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Sweden: City of Stockholm Approves Food Waste Disposal Installation

In September 2008, after completing a comprehensive study on the impacts and benefits of food waste disposals, the Stockholm Water Board voted to allow the installation of disposals in all areas of their jurisdiction without prior approval, and also eliminated previously required surcharges. This action was endorsed in April 2008 by the Swedish Green Party, which argued that the aggressive use of food waste disposers is consistent with the national strategy to divert 35% of household food waste from incineration to biological recycling by 2010. Stockholm currently sells biogas to produce energy, and has excess digester capacity at its wastewater treatment plants to increase the amount of biogas the plants capture.

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United Kingdom: Environmental Impact Study of Food Waste Disposers

The U.K. counties of Worcestershire and Herefordshire near Wales began subsidizing the purchase of disposals by residents in 2005, after studying the issue and concluding that using disposals was a cost-effective, convenient, and hygienic means of diverting kitchen food waste from landfills. According to their analysis, using in-sink disposals for food waste costs less and has a better carbon footprint than other waste disposal options. The counties estimated that lower solid waste disposal costs would pay for the cost of subsidies in approximately three years.

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United States: City of New York Reverses Partial Ban on Residential Disposers, Finds Benefits Exceed Negligible Impact on Sewer System, Water Quality

New York City had banned food waste disposals in areas served by combined storm and sanitary sewers since the 1970s. In 1995, the City Council directed the city's Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a 21-month pilot project that studied the impacts of using disposals on the environment, public health, and the cost associated with operating the water and sewer system. The impact of grease and food solids on sewers, the impact on water consumption, and the impact of possible increased pollutant loading on receiving waters were among the various issues examined. The study concluded that the impact of food waste disposals in any of these areas was "de minimus," and the previous ban was overturned.

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China: Beijing Issues Regulation Encouraging Food Waste Disposer Installation

Beijing, the capital of China, has issued a regulation encouraging disposer installation as a means of source separation at the kitchen and to help reduce garbage. (Translation of regulation below.)

Chapter 3 Reduction and Separation
Article 25
The Municipality encourages the minimization of the production of household garbage by means of marketing pre-processed vegetables, and promotes qualified food waste disposers to be installed in those residential districts with good infrastructure and upper-income households.

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China: Emerson InSinkErator Won "The Best Low-carbon Product Award"

InSinkErator disposers received "The Best Low-carbon Product Award" at the Third Session of the 21st Century Low-carbon China Development Summit. The award was given for disposers' role in converting food waste into electricity for cities. In recent years, Chinese government has promoted the installation and use of food waste disposers to transport food waste to treatment plants for energy generation and agricultural organic fertilizers.

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China: Shanghai Issues Regulation Recommending Food Waste Disposer Installation

Shanghai has issued a regulation encouraging disposer installation.

Section 3.1.1

Newly-built wholly-decorated dwelling houses in areas with the condition of well-established sewage pipelines shall be equipped with the kitchen waste (wet refuse) disposer; other dwelling houses shall be encouraged to install the kitchen waste (wet refuse) disposer if conditions allow.

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