Simply put, food waste is a big environmental problem. It’s the largest source of waste in our nation’s landfills, where it sits and produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
There’s a simple solution to this food waste challenge, and it’s sitting right under many American sinks. But a new survey shows that nearly half of Americans didn’t know that in-sink garbage disposers can reduce the amount of food waste headed to our landfills.
The survey showed that 66 percent of respondents felt that food waste’s impact on the environment is a significant problem, yet 49 percent did not connect garbage disposer use with alleviating this problem and 72 percent admit they still sometimes dispose of food and food waste in the trash.
The survey was commissioned by Emerson’s InSinkErator® business unit, who went on to say:
Disposal technology has advanced significantly in recent years, with today’s InSinkErator Evolution® disposals capable of grinding everything from corn cobs, bones and apple cores to banana peels, avocado pits and fruit and veggie peels. Once ground, food waste is sent through a home’s wastewater plumbing to treatment facilities, which are equipped to process the slurry more efficiently than landfills.
A growing number of communities are taking an additional environmentally responsible step to convert ground food waste into energy by using anaerobic digesters wastewater treatment systems to process food waste. With digesters, methane gas can be captured and used to produce renewable energy. Other byproducts are fertilizer and clean water.
The combination of disposals and digesters may deliver significant reductions in food waste headed to landfills. In a series of two-year pilot projects supported by InSinkErator, five U.S. cities saw a 30 percent reduction in food waste in participating households on average. The city of Philadelphia, one of the pilot program participants, last year enacted a new building ordinance calling for installation of disposals in all new homes constructed in the city.
I know what you are thinking… a company commissions a study that supports the sale of their product. Sure. But EcoMyths – “busting environmental myths since 2009” – confirms the general claim
These appliances… not only reduce the amount of diesel fuel and emissions associated with driving garbage trucks around town—but also carry this uneaten waste along to the wastewater treatment plant, where it can actually be used to produce resources like fertilizer and clean energy.
They remind us, however, that while sink disposals have clear benefits over trash cans and landfills, composting is better and reducing waste is even better.