GreenYes Archives

[GreenYes Home] - [Thread Index] - [Date Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]

[GreenYes] Re: Growing Global Interest in Food Waste Disposers

Good dialogue.
Note that the WSJ article, which I read, was not a glib endorsement but really just a descriptive report of what's happening in Malmo, Sweden - and a few other European cities. The garbage disposall was invented in the US and heavily marketed here wth the post-WW2 housing boom - 50% mkt penetration now.  It never had much mkt in Europe but now is being positioned as a green strategy there as limits of successful backyard composting are being reached in places like Germany that have done it for a while. The article reports on a study by Carol Diggelman in '98 looking at 5 different ways of managing food waste, and concluded that disposals that fed to water treatment plants w/ CH4-to-energy recovery had a more benign enviro. footprint than trucking food waste to LFs or even to compost fcilities. anyone have a copy of tha study? Would love to see the discussion in that.

David Biddle wrote:
Re: [GreenYes] Re: Growing Global Interest in Food Waste Disposers Kendall-I would love a copy of the WSJ article.

Dan- It seems to me that the problems that biosolid systems are having in this country are more a function of a dilapidated or under-sized infrastructure and that this issue calls forth the need to seriously examine that infrastructure. Also, in your climate backyard composting is probably a bit more doable than in northern climates like Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, etc. In addition, in many cities people don’t have space, literally. Here in Philly the majority of backyards are postage size. Finally, in studies I’ve seen, while the residential food waste component is high, the commercial and institutional fraction is much higher. Short of daily collection of roll-out carts, what is a Hilton Hotel supposed to do with their 2,000+ pounds of food scrap and sauces?

I’m advocating (and Kendall and I have talked about this often) for a very careful and thorough analysis of all the options for really solving this problem, especially for the commercial sectors. If it means that cities need to look at renovating with $200 million bond options or privatizing their sewer systems, or whatever, then so be it. Certainly, if the Bay Area is struggling the way you say it is, this process must already be underway. I would hope all the Waste-Heads their are looking to be a part of the solution.

David Biddle, Executive Director
Greater Philadelphia Commercial Recycling Council
P.O. Box 4037
Philadelphia, PA 19118

215-247-3090 (desk)
215-432-8225 (cell)

on 2/28/08 4:16 PM, Dan Knapp at dr.ore@no.address wrote:

I believe that sewage treatment plants in the San Francisco Bay Area would not be enthusiastic about the WSJ's glib endorsement of garbage disposals to reduce solid waste.  I have read several articles in the local press about how these plants are so maxed out that they are sometimes forced to dump untreated sewage into streams that drain to the Bay.  In late January one major sewage release in Marin County amounting to millions of gallons was one of the lead stories on the evening news for a couple of weeks.  Following that spill, lots of dead shorebirds were found in the area, although no conclusive link was established.  Also, sewage treatment facilitiy operators are advising customers via mailings never to put grease into the sewage system at all, since it creates pipe blockages not to mention lots of Biological Oxygen Demand. 

The best option is to compost food in your own backyard along with all the yard trimmings, food paper, and other organics such as cotton clothing.  I've done it for decades, and it's very satisfying, especially when combined with growing food in the enriched soil you get when you actually use the finished compost.  My soil horizon in the food garden is now about eight inches deep after fifteen years of soil amending with dozens of cubic yards of humus.  I'm also taking carbon that used to be in the air and putting it into the soil, where it nourishes the soil critters and fungi that help plants grow.  The soil is much easier to work than the heavy clay that I had to start with; no clods at all, and it holds water like a sponge.

Next best is to use curbside food and yard debris collection; these centralized processing systems are proliferating all over the Bay Area right now. 

Dan Knapp
Urban Ore, Inc., a reuse and recycling business in Berkeley, CA for 27 years.

On Feb 28, 2008, at 11:54 AM, Kendall Christiansen wrote:

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal featured a report about the growing international interest – with a focus on the EU – in the efficacy of food waste disposers (aka garbage disposals) as an environmental management tool, for immediate diversion of food scraps from the solid waste stream, and relying on wastewater treatment plants to process the solids in fertilizer products with energy recovery where possible.  In particular, it noted the experience of several cities that have intentionally opted for disposer-based systems for food scrap management.
Given that the WSJ remains subscription-based, if you’d like a copy of the article – as well as its Environmental Capital blog post on the same topic – please let me know and I’ll forward.  If you would like access to one or more of the reports referenced in the article, let me know that, too.
Kendall Christiansen

Gaia Strategies

151 Maple Street

Brooklyn, NY 11225

o: 718.941.9535; cell: 917.359.0725

the writer is senior consultant on environmental affairs for InSinkErator, the leading manufacturer of residential and commercial food waste disposers, and former Chair of NYC’s Citywide Recycling Advisory Board


[GreenYes Home] - [Date Index] - [Thread Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]