Green Tip: Getting Rid of Food Waste

Did you know that putting food scraps down the garbage disposal is not the best way to handle them? Food scraps often contain grease, which is very bad for the sewer system, but they also add significant amounts of solid material. That requires more processing, and by the time it is processed, much of the nutritional value in the food scraps has been removed, so it doesn’t go back into the food chain. It’s even worse if you use a septic system because the additional solids mean you need to pump more often and risk clogging the drain field sooner.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

The best way to deal with food scraps is to buy food with less excess material [pre-trimmed if possible], generate less if you can [use leftovers in stews, soups etc.], and compost what you can’t reuse. Do your own composting, or if you have Residential Yard Waste Service, see if you can put your food scraps in with the grass clippings and tree branches. Many areas in Washington State now have this available. If you don’t have food scrap recycling available and can’t compost [for instance if you live in an apartment], then you have to choose between the disposal or the garbage. Residential volumes are not a huge problem for sewage plants, but look for alternative ways to dispose of them if you can. Talk to your landlord, your Waste Management Provider, or your local government. Food waste is a large proportion of our solid waste stream no matter where it goes.

For more information about food scraps and garbage disposals you can Google. Grinning Planet has an old [before food scrap recycling was available] article about this, and many local sewer districts mention it. Consumer Reports has a section titled THE DOWNSIDE OF DISPOSERS. Of the three options; sewage system, landfill or composting, there is no doubt that composting is the best method if it’s available. There is some debate about whether landfills or sewage systems are less costly [in several ways], but if you can, compost it.