David Goldstein, Ventura County PWA, IWMD . By
Some people love the convenience of their garbage disposals so much, they risk the occasional inconvenience of sink clogs instead of dealing with the smell of leftovers filling their kitchen garbage containers. If the content washed sinks are small enough, and if homeowners run their taps and leave the disposal motor running for a long time, clogs are rare, according to Bob Vila, whose subsidiary website, BobVila.com, clogs drains. There are also tips for opening.
Villa Kitchen suggests first turning off the breaker that controls the disposal to open the sink drain. As he notes, “A successful home repair will never be remembered as a trip to the emergency room.” Most clogs can be removed, he notes, with only the simplest tools: a plunger, baking soda, vinegar, pliers, and a flashlight.
Garbage disposal provides clean and convenient disposal, but is your sink an environmentally responsible place to manage food waste? Joe Dillon, spokesman for InSinkErator, speaking to an Associated Press reporter in a 2019 article on the subject (“Is your kitchen-sink disposal eco-friendly?”, by Katherine Roth, March 20, 2019) argued that her company’s product offers environmental benefits. Indeed, keeping food out of landfills avoids the production of methane, and some wastewater treatment plants recover energy from organic matter.
As noted in the AP article, however, the environmental consequences of in-sink disposal are highly dependent on local conditions. In Ventura County, those conditions raise concerns about garbage disposal.
The water needed to transport food through sewers makes this form of disposal environmentally costly in arid regions such as Ventura County. In addition, there are no composting facilities for biosolids in Ventura County, so long-distance trucking is required to ship the biosolids from local wastewater treatment plants to compost sites and again to distribute the resulting compost to users, Which are usually non-production farms. Food crops. In addition, some local wastewater treatment facilities have found it too expensive to send biosolids to distant composting facilities and instead send their sludge to landfills.
Phil Archer, chief wastewater operator at the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility, explained another problem with handling food scraps locally via garbage disposal. “The microorganisms we use to biologically treat our wastewater are adjusted to the expected level of organic matter in the water. If too many people, or just one large generator, dump too much organic material into the sewer starts to do so, we’ll be out of balance. At some point, the space we have available for microorganisms to add won’t be enough.”
Gina Dorrington, assistant general manager of operations at Ventura Water, explained another challenge with a material capable of becoming septic. Without adequate water flow through the pipes, organic matter can become trapped in the pipes and rot. Hydrogen sulfide poisoning can accumulate in pipes or disturb the microbial balance in the reclamation facility.
Business and Public Recycling Coordinators are developing alternatives to composting food waste in Ventura County. Within the next few years, counties and local cities will implement programs in compliance with state mandates requiring the removal of food waste and other organic matter from landfills. The first facility to be available for this purpose will likely be at Limonera Farms, a site operated by Agromin. When it opens, residents served by commuters using the site will be asked to place food scraps in their curbside yard waste containers. Perhaps in the next few years, another facility may open, allowing residents of other areas to have mixed food scraps in their waste, mechanically sorted before composting.
Of course, “reduce” and “reuse” come before “recycle” on the waste management hierarchy, so the top priority for recycling coordinators is to help people avoid food waste in the first place. Donating surplus food for human consumption, converting food waste into animal feed, backyard composting initiatives, school garden development and other options top the list. Currently, businesses and schools in parts of Ventura County can arrange for separate collection of their garbage dumps at facilities outside the county for composting.
David Goldstein, environmental analyst at Ventura County Public Works, can be contacted at 805-658-4312 or email@example.com.
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