How eco friendly is your garburator?

Food waste ready to be bokashi compostedGarburators (or garbage disposal unit) may seem harmless enough tucked away in your kitchen sink. Many people feel good about using their garburator. After all, they are saving food waste from the landfill. Right?! But how eco friendly is your garburator?

The cost of garburators

If we’re talking cold hard dollars, then a study a few years back showed that garburators cost Metro Vancouver $2 million a year! $2 million to clean out all the fats, oils, grease, and general gunk that gets chopped up and passed through garburators. Basically our sewage systems were designed to deal with…. well, sewage. When people start using garburators that adds a lot of extra stuff which blocks up the pipes. This means our sewage systems need a lot more maintenance. Hence the $2 million per year bill.

Environmental cost of using a garburator

But, what is the environmental cost of using your garburator? This really depends on what happens to your food waste if it isn’t put down the garburator, as well as what happens to the organics waste in your sewage. Lets think about the former first, as this is the part that we have control over.

If you compost at home, have a curbside collection or a convenient place to take your organics for composting then you should never need to use your garburator. Even if you consider fuel from pick-up vehicles and compostable/paper bags to store your food waste; you (and the environment) are always better to use home composting or local organics collection program for your food waste.

Bokashi composting is becoming many households favourite way to compost all of their food waste. Bokashi composting allows you to compost all of your food waste, including cooked foods, meat, and bones, along with fruits and veggies. How to get started with bokashi composting.

But what if you don’t have a local composting solution. It could be argued that putting your food waste down the garburator is better than it ending up in landfill. Organics that end up in the landfill will rot and putrefy under anaerobic conditions. This rotting creates methane gas; a powerful greenhouse gas. Rotting food in landfill is the second largest manmade source of methane. Therefore by composting food waste, we can eliminate these greenhouse gas emissions.

Remember, if you are using a garburator to avoid putting your food waste in the garbage, it does not mean that this food waste will avoid going to the landfill. And that leads us nicely into thinking about what happens to organic waste in your sewage….

What happens to your garburator food waste?

Do you know what your city does with its sewage? No? Not many people really give it much thought. There are a few different things that may happen to your garburated food waste once its headed down your kitchen sink. Here are the four common ways to dispose of sewage sludge (in order of environmental preference):

  • Land application

This means that the food waste (along with everything else that goes down your drain) is applied as a fertilizer to agricultural land.

  • Incineration

Another alternative is for the sewage sludge (including the garburated food waste) to be burnt.

  • Landfill

Food dumped in landfillThe third option (this isn’t the worst one!) is for the garburated food to be sent to landfill. So after all that energy wasted in your garburator, additional maintenance and load put on the local sewage system, it ends up in the landfill anyway. Where it will rot and putrify and produce harmful gases.

  • Ocean dumping

Another, and arguably the worst, option is for the food waste to be dumped in the ocean. Just think about it. All of that garburated waste (along with everything else that goes down our drain) sent out through a long pipe and deposited in our oceans along with all those toxins and pathogens. Hmmmm, not what I would feel comfortable happening to my food waste.

I am not a sewage sludge expert, but needless to say, home composting is by far my preferred option!

Order now! Find all your bokashi composting supplies in our online shop.

3 thoughts on “How eco friendly is your garburator?

    1. Rats (and other pests) can be a problem when composting food waste, if the compost pile is not maintained correctly. Effective composting in a traditional compost pile requires regular turning, the correct brown:green balance and the correct moisture levels to ensure that the temperature of the pile is hot enough to effectively break down the kitchen waste. Even with a well maintained pile, some food items (such as cooked food, baked goods, pasta, potatoes, eggs, meat and dairy) often still attract pests.

      Bokashi composting is a great solution for composting food waste. The fermentation process (which happens in a sealed bucket in your home) renders the food waste unattractive to pests (including rats). The fermented food waste can be added directly to your garden soil or compost pile without attracted unwanted pests to your garden. And the whole process from food waste to useable soil takes just 4-6 weeks. The compost produced using bokashi composting is rich in nutrients and microbes and makes amazing soil for your garden.

  1. I would never put fats into a garburator or kitchen drain. Mom kept a washed soup can in the fridge in which to pour bacon fat or other meat fats. In the past, mothers taught their children these things, but they din’t seem to anymore. Yes, the bacon fat went into the landfill, but isnt that better than clogging up the sewage systems?

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