A garbage disposal unit is an awfully nice thing to have. However, with the advent of Calgary’s Green Bin recycling program for biodegradable waste, many people have come to frown on their use.
As Calgary’s residential plumbing and drain experts, we want to share some information.
It’s A Good Thing
The Green Bin program is making a real difference for the better. More than half of what Calgarians were throwing away was compostable food and yard waste; keeping that material out of the landfill keeps costs down and makes some 85,000 tonnes available for nutrient-rich compost each year. So by all means, make use of your green bin– it really does help.
That said, we’d like to reassure you that garbage disposals are not at crossed purposes with the green bin; they’re just different paths to the same goal.
Some people have the false impression that garbage disposals contaminate the water, or that good composting material is lost this way. The truth is waste going down the garburator doesn’t wind up in the river; rather it just gets composted at the water treatment plant instead. The resulting compost is skimmed off for use in agriculture and landscaping, and in the production of biogas (carbon-neutral) fuels.
There’s also still a common belief that garburators will plug up your drains, waste water or contribute to sewer problems. Modern garbage disposal units typically have three grinders in series that effectively turn food waste into a liquid, with particles less than 2 mm suspended in water. As for water consumption, typical usage is roughly equivalent to a single toilet flush per day.
To keep your drains clear and your disposal working properly, use plenty of cold water, running the unit only after the tap is flowing. Don’t fill the unit up to the brim with solid waste and then expect trouble-free operation!
Take care to only put down the disposal the things it is supposed to grind. Bones in particular are not intended to go in there; while you might have some success, it’s noisy and takes a long time. Better to put those in the green bin. Bottom line is anything you have difficulty chewing (fibrous material like onion skins, celery, artichoke leaves, etc.) will also be hard for the disposal to handle, but most food waste will be no problem.
The discussion over garbage disposals always leads to the issue of clogs; the principal culprit in clogged plumbing is grease. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, a cardinal rule is never pour grease down the drain. Rather, drain the grease into a container and scoop it into the green bin when it cools. Wipe down remaining greasy surfaces with paper towel.
Regardless of whether you have a garbage disposal, don’t rinse greasy dishes and pans with hot water alone (this often happens when pre-rinsing for the dishwasher). That grease will congeal when the water cools and contribute to problems down the line, coating surfaces and accreting with solid waste. Just make sure that soap is involved any time water runs on a greasy surface; this will emulsify the grease and ensure it stays liquid all the way to the treatment plant.
If keeping your drains clear is a concern for you, the answer is not found with chemical drain openers. We don’t recommend these under any circumstance; you’re just pouring corrosive chemicals down the drain and quite possibly doing damage to your plumbing.
BioOne is a maintenance product for drains and septic systems to eliminate the buildup of fats, oils and grease that slow down and clog your pipes. It does this gently with a natural biological digestion process, using enzymes to break down the waste buildup. Just a few ounces monthly is all it takes, and it’s safe for your plumbing.
We think you’d love a garburator, it’s clean, fast, and doesn’t smell like the bin does! Give us a call for more information about garbage disposals, or if you have any questions about drain health.