Get­ting in sink with waste dis­posal units

The move to­wards re­cy­cling stuff from sewage into valu­able bio­gas could also give an older tech­nol­ogy a new lease of life.

Element - - Primary Industry - By Andy Ken­wor­thy

Com­post­ing has al­ways been the most eco-friendly and ef­fi­cient op­tion for deal­ing with food waste wher­ever pos­si­ble. Most peo­ple in New Zealand have ac­cess to even a small gar­den to do this, or to bury the pick­led re­sults of the small ‘Bokashi’ buck­ets.

But, for those few who don’t, and for work­places where no­body takes this on, in-sink waste dis­posal sys­tems of­fer an­other clean and easy op­tion. These ma­chines, which have been around since 1927, shred any food waste you put down the sink, re­mov­ing 85 per­cent of the solids so the rest can be washed away.

The con­cern with their use has been whether the sewage sys­tems can deal ef­fec­tively with this food waste once it reaches the works. Un­til re­cently, this was sim­ply re­moved with other solid waste and trucked to a land­fill. This risked mak­ing a waste dis­posal unit more costly and en­vi­ron­men­tally dam­ag­ing than com­post­ing, or even just stick­ing your food waste in a nor­mal bin.

But up­dated mu­nic­i­pal sewage sys­tems can now han­dle the load and those with bio­gas di­gesters cre­ate the po­ten­tial to turn all this waste into valu­able com­modi­ties.

Andy Higgs from Parex, the New Zealand dis­trib­u­tors of the InSinkEra­tor brand of waste dis­posal units, is un­der­stand­ably en­thu­si­as­tic.

“It wasn’t originally de­signed as an en­vi­ron­men­tal piece of equip­ment,” he says. “But it is a tech­nol­ogy whose time has come.”

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