Food Disposals: What’s happening with the beast under the kitchen sink?
The Gaping Maw
Food disposals are now installed in an estimated half of American homes. Until it stops smoothly and efficiently grinding away, folks typically don’t think too much about that disposer at work under the kitchen sink. But, for some homeowners, there is a growing list of issues they’d like to address, from noise reduction to environmental impact. What consumers want is convenience and quality, and today’s modern food waste disposers offer both.
“Consumers are looking for a quality product. That encompasses a variety of considerations like horsepower, warranty, ease of installation and performance,” said Cassy Osborne, senior marketing manager for Moen Inc. “Consumers either buy the same model they currently have, or upgrade to a higher horsepower for increased performance and capabilities. Warranties are important since a disposal can be an unexpected purchase. A strong warranty can help a homeowner feel more secure in their decision. “
For the retail market, most consumers are replacing out-of-service disposers or adding to a new kitchen, said Joneca Corporation president Edward E. Chavez. “Their concerns relative to selecting disposers are understandably different then for the builders/plumbing wholesale customers. Although the priority would naturally be different for each consumer, they consider: Price, ease of installation, odor control, sound control, jam prevention, size, warranty, performance, reliability, and disposer protection.”
Protecting the Environment
Disposals are about function over form, Moen’s Osborne said. “For example, eco-conscious homeowners who use a disposal will find it serves a unique purpose in the kitchen. The food waste processed by disposals can be sent through waste water treatment facilities, diverting trash from landfills.
“It’s a unique eco-benefit some consumers may not have considered. Sound is more of a personal choice. Some homeowners want silence, while others like to hear the motor doing its job. Since sound is affected by everything from your sink depth to cabinet height and kitchen floor plan, it’s just not the decision factor you might expect.”
There’s a common misperception that food waste disposers waste water and as a result a lot of energy, said Rob Grim, InSinkErator ‘s senior vice president of sales: “Today’s modern disposers are energy efficient as they only use one percent or less of a household’s total water consumption and cost, on average, less than 50 cents per year in electricity. And, food waste disposers help the environment. Rather than throwing food waste into the trash to end up in a landfill, a food waste disposer sends it to a wastewater treatment facility where food waste can be turned into renewable energy or fertilizer. “
On the commercial front, the trends are addressing the most cost effective and easiest means on how do institutions deal with organic waste, Grim said. “Trash hauling continues to be expensive and, eventually becomes an issue for municipal landfills. Commercial grade disposers offer a solution to address food waste processing in the kitchen area. New solutions, such as InSinkErator’s Grind2Energy system, offer services that support food waste disposal addressing commercial kitchen cleanup where use of commercial disposers are discouraged and landfill delivery is prohibited. This service offers a means to convert food waste into renewable energy.”
Using your disposal actually requires fewer resources than sending waste to a landfill, Osborne agreed. “Often, replacing an older unit with a new, properly functioning unit will save water since older units may take longer to process waste, requiring the water to be left on for longer periods. New units that function correctly can process waste more effectively and reduce the amount of time that the water needs to run to clear the waste through the plumbing system.”
The use of a disposer takes up less than one extra flush of a toilet per day, Chavez noted. “Many U.S. and international studies on the handling of food waste have confirmed the use of disposers and sewer system is the most environmentally friendly method for disposal — and recycling — food waste. The alternatives to the use of disposers involve incineration and/or curb side pickup.”
By contrast, food waste handled by disposers flows through to the sewage treatment plants. Since the food waste is ground up by the disposers, this allows for more contact area for bacteria to do its work more efficiently. “Often, the sludge resulting from this bacterial action is then used for fertilizer and is thus recycled,” Chavez said.
When it comes to “noise pollution” when a food disposer is operating, manufacturers say that it has been addressed, although not every end user finds the noise level a problem. “Sound is more of a personal choice,” Osborne said. “Some homeowners want silence, while others like to hear the motor doing its job – since sound is affected by everything from your sink depth to cabinet height and kitchen floor plan, it’s just not the decision factor you might expect.”
“Yes, noise reduction continues to be a top-selling feature of InSinkErator disposers as it provides the additional convenience of being able to run your disposer whenever you need to – even while you are talking on the phone. You barely know that it is running,” Grim said.
From the creation of the Waste Maid program for the USA market, sound control has been built into each Waste Maid Disposer, Chavez said. “With the Torque Master Balanced Grinding System, each motor armature; each turntable, and the impellers are balanced together to assure smooth running and quieter operation. Full sound insulation for the larger models further adds to the sound control.”
InSinkErator’ s Evolution Series feature two exclusive InSinkErator technologies: MultiGrind and SoundSeal. MultiGrind offers two stages of grinding versus a single stage found in standard disposers to shear, shred and grind. The Evolution Excel features an exclusive third stage of grinding with a Tri-Action Lug System and Undercutter Disk system. Grim explained SoundSeal Plus technology uses a combination of baffle advances, multi-layer foam insulation and anti-vibration components to make it the quietest disposer available. The InSinkErator Evolution Septic Assist is designed specifically for homes with septic systems. It features an automatic Bio-Charge® injection, a natural microorganism that helps break down food waste.
“With the introduction of garbage disposals, Moen has homeowners covered above the sink and below,” Osborne said. All seven models of Moen disposals feature a Vortex permanent magnet motor, which operates at high RPM levels to help reduce jamming. Each unit also features the Universal Xpress Mount, making Moen’s units compatible with the mounting system of most three bolt mounting systems. This can make replacing a disposal faster and easier.
Units in the GX Series feature SoundSHIELD sound-deadening insulation to help quiet the powerful disposal motor. The pre-installed power cord on all Moen models means no incremental cost of purchasing it separately and no additional trips to the store to buy it later. “All Moen disposals are compatible with properly sized septic systems. Our Vortex permanent magnet motor platform grinds waste finely so that it can be processed effectively in a septic system environment or waste water treatment facility,” Osborne said.
Joneca’s Waste Maid brands feature a permanent magnet motor that provides more torque power and jam prevention while at the same time taking up less space under the sink. The Waste Maid Designer Series that offers disposers with sink flanges in the most popular colors, i.e. brush nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, polish chrome, black, and white to match the kitchen. Other features are the Bio-Shield Anti-Microbial, which helps prevent odors from the disposers; magnetic Silver Guard Disposer Protection, which prevents metal objects from entering the disposer chamber; removable splash guards on all models for easy cleaning and insertion of bulky food waste; and the Torque Master Balanced Grinding System for a quieter, smoother operation.
For installers, there’s still a need for consumer education. Look to the manufacturers for some teaching aids. For example, Moen has created a “how it works” video to give some rare insight into the disposal internals and show homeowners what really happens under the sink. The video also features tips for proper disposal use. It can be found at moen.com/disposals.