How Your Garbage Disposal Aids in Composting and Eco-friendly Initiatives

One of the biggest elements in trash heaps is food waste and organic matter, comprising over 21.59% of garbage by households, according to the US EPA. Municipal waste facilities can use garbage disposal as an eco-friendly way to divert this food waste from landfills and repurpose it into nutrient-rich compost. Understanding the association between garbage disposal and compost helps clarify how minor daily activities contribute to environmental sustainability.

Anaerobic digestion to make manure from kitchen scraps offers a highly useful end product called compost that provides nutrients essential for soil fertility. Such green approaches like methane reduction at landfills and composting are critical in supporting sustainable societies, preventing climate change, and maintaining ecologies.

Understanding Garbage Disposal Units

The grinding mechanism in a garbage disposal pulverizes food scraps into tiny bits through centrifugal force. Food waste enters the disposal chamber and lands on a spinning disc or impeller with sharp blades known as lugs or flywheels. This impeller spins at high speeds, up to 2000 RPM, grinding the waste into tiny particles. The particle-laden water can then drain freely along with minimal amounts of flush water. Some disposers have more advanced grinding stages and powerful motors up to three horsepower.

Types of garbage disposers.

There are two main types of garbage disposers:

Continuous feed models, such as the Emerson Insinkerator Advanced series disposal, have a magnetic stopper to allow waste to be gradually fed. The Insinkerator is equipped with MultiGrind® Technology, which prevents clogs by grinding food waste into fine particles. The advanced series Insinkerator is one of the quietest garbage disposals available due to Emerson’s patented SoundSeal® Technology.

Batch feed models require a stopper to manually seal the disposal chamber before grinding the waste inside in batches. 

Benefits of using garbage disposal units in households.

Garbage disposals offer several advantages to households, like:

  • Preventing clogged drains and the hassle of removing food waste by hand
  • Reducing trash bins overflowing with smelly organic waste
  • Keeping kitchens clean by minimizing waste buildup
  • Diverting food waste from landfills 

The Connection Between Garbage Disposals and Composting 

Aerobic decomposition is very vital in composting, involving the breaking down of organic matter into humus by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. These can be included in municipal compost piles or anaerobic digesters where food scraps are obtained from.

In-vessel composting optimizes conditions like airflow, temperature and moisture to speed up degradation. The right carbon-nitrogen balance ensures beneficial microbes thrive. This natural biological process yields a stable, earthy product after 1-2 months under managed conditions, much faster than unmanaged compost heaps.  

How food waste disposed through garbage disposal contributes to composting.

Garbage disposals connected to municipal sewer systems direct food waste to wastewater treatment plants. These facilities extract solid waste like food particles from garbage disposals before processing wastewater. The food solids become feedstock for composting or anaerobic digesters onsite. These closed systems capture methane gas for renewable energy. The nutrient-rich compost ultimately returns to the soil to support agriculture or landscaping. Food waste emptied into backyard compost piles also contributes to small-scale compost production.  

Eco-Friendly Initiatives Supported by a Garbage Disposal  

Landfills have less food waste to be trashed.

About 30% of household waste is food and yard trimmings. But only 5% of the food is composted, per the EPA. Garbage disposals minimize household organic waste ending up directly in landfills. Decomposing food waste in landfills slowly but surely releases a strong greenhouse gas, methane. In the US, landfills are the third largest emitters of methane. Using garbage disposals diverts food waste from sitting long-term in oxygen-deprived landfills and allows its conversion into useful compost instead via effective wastewater infrastructure. 

Decrease in methane emissions from decomposing organic waste.

Landfill food waste emits methane both onsite and when transported via waste collection vehicles. This is eliminated by diverting food waste through garbage disposals into compost feedstock. Composting enables aerobic digestion, generating carbon dioxide instead of methane. Furthermore, finished compost sequesters carbon back into the soil. So, disposing of food waste in garbage disposals ultimately prevents methane emissions in support of mitigating climate change. 

Promotion of sustainable practices in waste management.

Sustainable principles are met through composting organic waste and using green energy from anaerobic digesters. By supporting this closed-loop cycle of diverting food from landfill disposal to renewal into compost, garbage disposals enable households to directly contribute to localized circular economies. Using ground food particles as compost feedstock also helps municipalities achieve waste diversion targets and progress towards carbon neutrality or net zero waste goals. Overall, disposals help implement visionary zero-waste strategies.

Tips for Maximizing Garbage Disposal for Composting and Eco-Friendly Efforts 

  1. Proper maintenance of garbage disposal units 
    Regular garbage disposal maintenance ensures optimal performance. Always run plenty of cold water before, during and after grinding to flush waste particles down the drain. Ice helps clean greasy residues. Baking soda or citrus peels deodorize smells. Grinding small eggshell pieces and fibrous orange peels helps abrade any sticky buildup internally over time. 
  2. Sorting waste for optimal composting
    Presort waste appropriately before adding it to disposals. Avoid grinding extremely hard or fibrous food items like bones, corn husks, or grease pucks that can jam mechanisms. Let fats solidify before grinding instead of pouring hot oils. 
  3. Utilizing compost produced from garbage disposal effectively
    Check if your municipality sells compost derived from food waste processed at wastewater plants so that you can close the food cycle loop. Utilize this finished compost in your home garden or lawn. Work a few inches of compost into the top six to 12 inches of soil as an amendment before planting flowers, trees, shrubs or a vegetable garden. Compost integrates best by tilling thoroughly with existing native soil, not leaving it sitting in thick, pure layers. Plant seedlings in starter mixes blended with 30-40% compost mixes for strong root development. Also, top-dress lawns or mulch around trees with compost to fertilize naturally.  

Challenges and Solutions

There are some challenges around effectively utilizing garbage disposals to enable composting. 

  1. Homeowners may hesitate to grind more waste if they are concerned about smells or clogged drains. 
  2. Municipalities need sufficient centralized composting infrastructure and anaerobic digesters in place with the capacity to handle large volumes of food solids from disposals citywide. 
  3. Transportation logistics and costs are involved in moving waste slurry from sewage plants to composting sites. 
  4. Home compost piles receiving disposal output require diligent aeration and rotation to counteract excess moisture.

However, innovative technologies, dedicated compost funding, and public education help overcome these barriers over time across communities.

Solutions to overcome barriers and maximize efficiency

  1. Regularly flushing small waste loads dispersed with water instead of mass grindings prevents clogs. 
  2. Ventilation adaptations reduce smells from compost piles receiving disposal output. 
  3. Municipalities plan long-term, gaining economies of scale in centralized compost sites over decades. 
  4. Residents attentively maintain backyard compost tumblers receiving drainage output. 
  5. Further innovation in biowaste management will maximize sustainability.

Overall, the solution is progress through partnerships across households, communities and government via small, consistent actions.

Garbage disposals installed under home kitchen sinks play a pivotal yet unseen role in advancing environmental sustainability through enabling organic waste to be transformed into compost instead of occupying landfills. Look into adding this small but mighty appliance supporting green, zero-waste goals.

Embrace the Environment with Coburn’s

Visit a Coburn’s Kitchen & Bath Showroom to choose an energy-efficient, ecologically sound garbage disposal, like the Emerson Insinkerator Advanced series disposal, for your home today.