Houseworks: Is it okay to have a food waste disposer?
These under-sink units don’t take up much space – and they eat up food waste
The InSinkErator (above): With advancements in water efficiency, noise reduction and the macerating capabilities of newer waste-disposal models, combined with improvements in treatment facilities, old arguments against disposal units do not hold as much merit.
In America, waste (or garbage) disposal units connected to the sink are as common as microwaves in domestic kitchens, yet in Ireland they are still a rarity. This is primarily due to many local county councils discouraging their use, as historically they used a lot of water and the extra waste could potentially overload sewage and treatment plants. Another pitfall was the noise they make when switched on (akin to a food blender), and then there was the fear of clogging up the pipes with food not sufficiently broken down.
With advancements in water efficiency, noise reduction and the macerating capabilities of newer waste-disposal models, combined with improvements in national treatment facilities, these old arguments do not hold as much merit. Especially when you consider that every household in Ireland is responsible for one tonne of food waste per year (according to Department of the Environment) – and said waste needs to be transported to refuse centres or landfills and treated too, adding to the carbon footprint even more.
Waste disposal units are typically small canisters which can be fitted or retrofitted in most kitchens and are connected to the outlet drain of your sink. Blades inside the unit grind up the food which you wash down the drain into tiny particles, and this flows into the local waste treatment system or septic tank. Most food matter can be broken down by them, except for bones (but some very high-spec units state they can obliterate bones too).
If buying a unit, there are two types to consider – batch feed and continuous feed. The latter will work until all the food is disposed of, whenever there is food in the unit, the water is on and the power switch for the unit is on. Batch feed models are slower as they use a stopper, so all the food must be in the canister first. The user must place the stopper into the disposal’s opening in order to turn it on. Both types dispose of food waste equally well, but the batch type may be a safer option if you have small children in the home.
Pay attention to the steel used in the blades inside the canister as you don’t want rusty ones – the best cutters tend to be made of cast iron – and measure up accurately to ensure the unit will fit under your sink. Tapsforless.ie and tapmagic.ie have units ranging from €195-€500 (not including installation), while The Gas Company in Palmerstown has InSinkErator units from €395. Typical plumbing installation costs about €100-€200 (thegascompany.ie)