This is the time of year when we gather for a big feast. And afterwards can be a busy time for plumbers, due to the improper disposal of fats, oils and grease (FOG). Remember, fats can be liquefied with heat but solidify in plumbing and sewers after cooling. This can lead to serious issues – plumbing and sewer blockages. Please don’t use your sink, toilet, or disposer to improperly dispose of FOG. It can cause undesirable situations – sewer backups and expensive visits from the plumber.
And what about all those potato peelings and even the leftover turkey carcass from the feast? Here is an interesting new way to peel your potatoes and recycle the skins.
YouTube Video of Ingenious Method for Peeling Potatoes
Over time, potato peels have been named as the culprit in disposer-related sink backups, often by your mother and the plumber. Why? It’s not because potato peels are particularly difficult to grind. As often as not, it’s because people pack the disposer full with the peels of many potatoes and then turn on the disposer. Sometimes without turning on the water or running it through. Or, just as bad – not letting the water run afterwards.
Modern disposers have multiple grind stages, which help alleviate jams and clogs and make grinding even more difficult waste–like the turkey carcass–easy and fast. Yes, I am telling you that with an advanced disposer you not only don’t you have to worry about potato peels but you don’t have to worry about grinding a turkey carcass either.
My hope is that your holiday season is enjoyable and uneventful (at least with regard to kitchen backups) so here are some tips for using your disposer.
- Turn on the water.
- Turn on the disposer.
- Slowly add food scraps to the disposer.
- Leave disposer on until grinding is complete.
- Turn off the disposer.
- Let the water run a few extra seconds.
I’ll have the carcass demo in my next post!
by Casey Furlong, MSW Professional
As long as municipalities have been treating wastewater, they’ve had to manage the remaining biosolids. This typically means paying to send it to a landfill or incineration – or where possible — giving it away for land spreading on a farm field.
But why not sell it instead? After all, it has nutrient properties similar to petroleum-based fertilizers.
Cities like Tacoma, Milwaukee and Austin – and their residents –recognize that their plants’ biosolids product has value worth paying for, and these cities have been able to distribute it through garden stores or sell it in bulk.
Marketing is not generally within a wastewater treatment plant’s core competencies but the two steps that these cities have figured out is 1.) Telling a prospective buyer what the product is, and 2.) Emphasizing what it will do for the purchaser of it. “Sell the sizzle not the steak” is an old idiom on the idea.
That may sound utterly simple but a whole industry has grown up around those two tasks. So if your facility is interested in generating revenue from something that is now an expense item, you might want to check with a local ad agency for assistance. Given the general public’s lack of awareness, don’t be surprised if the response is something like, “You want me to help you promote what?”
Casey Furlong is an Environmental Specialist for InSinkErator. With an extensive background in landfill engineering, Casey designed, permitted, constructed and operated municipal solid waste landfills and large-scale food and landscape waste compost facilities. He is a certified landfill manager in Wisconsin and registered professional engineer in the states of WI, IL and IN.
When I speak about food waste disposers to wastewater professionals that oversee or manage sewage collection systems, one concern I hear is that food waste will settle out and even clog pipes. Previously, I’ve written about ground food waste becoming a slurry that it is efficiently transported in plumbing and sewers. See “The Voice Over.”
The misconception persists that disposer discharge contains food chunks, and that the use of disposers will lead to sedimentation problems. This further suggests that municipalities will have to pay for additional cleaning and maintenance of sewers because of disposers.
To which I say, it’s time that inspectors pull their head out of the sewer and read the research!
A recent study from Lulea University in Sweden looked at the long-term impacts of residential disposers on sewers to understand if pipe blockages are real or just perceived. The researchers focused on understanding the implications of disposer use, based on the ratio of their presence with the extent and distribution of deposits. Closed circuit television inspection of the sewers serving single family homes was conducted on 181 sewer pipes with a diameter of 225 mm (~9”). Using the videos taken during low flow conditions, the researchers classified deposits observed in the sewers on a score from one to four. They also included an evaluation of pipe slope and sags.
Based on statistical analysis of the scores tallied for the deposits found in the sewer, the researchers concluded that the use of food waste disposers has minimal impact on sewers. The study was funded by the Swedish Water and Wastewater Association and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. In recent years municipal leaders in Sweden have proposed the use of disposers to increase biogas production and decrease vehicle transportation of solid waste, and so the research was sponsored to address concerns raised with regard to potential sewer impacts.
To my wastewater and conveyance friends — I’m interested in knowing what else it will take to convince you… do you still need more?