Home Kitchen & Laundry Disposers a Critical Component to Effective Food Waste Minimization

Disposers a Critical Component to Effective Food Waste Minimization


I have written or posted articles about food waste frequently over the years—articles focused on everything from food waste prevention to decomposition machines to a food waste disposal ban in Massachusetts. Nine years ago I wrote an article that briefly addressed food waste disposers. A lot can change in nine years and that is why I just posted an updated article on disposers and disposer systems based on my own research as well as conversations with leaders representing our industry’s two leading disposer brands—Salvajor and InSinkErator. Both of these companies, and others, are making it easier to reduce food waste volume while minimizing water and energy consumption.

Food waste is much more than a practical, costly kitchen problem. It is a huge environmental one as well. According to Emerson Electric Co., owner of the InSinkErator brand of food waste disposers, each year in the United States, nearly 34 million tons of food waste is trucked to landfills. Once there, it quickly decomposes and produces methane, an environmentally harmful greenhouse gas at least 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The Food & Agriculture Organization estimates that each year, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted.

Pulverizing food scraps efficiently, so most can go down the drain with water, is the aim of companies like Salvajor and InSinkErator. While food scrap grinding is the goal of disposers, Salvajor and InSinkErator also offer non-grinder solutions for rare situations where draining food waste is not permitted. For example, with Salvajor’s Scrap Collector, one ends up with scraps in a scrap basket that can be composted. The goal is to at least reduce the volume of waste having to leave the premises.

Efficiency Built in to Latest Products

There are many disposer sizes and related systems available. Some disposers have an automatic shut-off option to save energy. InSinkErator disposers come with an optional AquaSaver control system that can cut water usage by up to 70 percent. It is standard for disposer systems to recycle and recirculate water. Disposer systems double or triple the rate at which dirty plates can be cleared and readied for dishwashers, and disposers reduce the movement of heavy waste across a property, reducing the potential for work-related injuries.

Interestingly, at this past fall’s HX: The Hotel Experience trade show in New York, InSinkErator featured its new Grind2Energy system. Grind2Energy processes food waste into a premium, energy-rich material—a slurry—for anaerobic digestion. “We provide food waste slurry from our Grind2Energy system to several companies that operate anaerobic digesters, as well as municipal wastewater treatment plants,” says Erica Vranak, Commercial Marketing Manager for InSinkErator. At anaerobic digester facilities, gases emitted are captured and converted into electricity, fuel, or heat and the remaining biosolids are used as fertilizer. In addition to being an alternative to landfills, the Grind2Energy system reduces odors and pest concerns associated with food waste handling and storage. Installations include the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians stadiums, The Blackwell Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, and Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, Wis.

Figuring out what to do with so much food waste is a big challenge in our industry. Of course not wasting food to begin with is important. There is a lot that goes into that—precise ordering, portion control, employee training, knowing what guests or meeting attendees really want, etc. Inevitably, every foodservice operation has to deal with food waste. It is good to know there are a growing number of alternatives to reduce its volume—disposers, disposer systems, food waste decomposition machines, and waste to energy options.

What innovative practices has your property put in place to manage food waste? I would love to know. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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