Food scrap disposal

I’d like your opinions on which is better for the environment - scraping food scraps into a plastic trash bag to go to a landfill and take an unknowable amount of time to break down OR scrape the scraps into the sink disposal where it’ll go to city (in this instance) water treatment within days.
My mom’s moving to a place that has a disposal, which she has never had and says she will never use. She much prefers to scrape food into the trash. I told her that simply having the disposal means she’ll have to run water down it occasionally, and that her dishwasher will empty its own food scraps into the same pipes the disposal would.
What say you? There’s an environmental impact to all the options but I’m torn as to which is the least.

Of the two options given, I would use the sink disposal.

The trash disposal is no good, because as you say, it doesn’t break down normally in a landfill. Using the sink disposer is far preferable. I mean, city water treatment is set up to deal with solids anyway, right?

Yes, it’s called sludgeand there are attempts to reclaim it for greater use. But even if it wound up in a landfill it’s ready to break down immediately. The bags in a landfill rely on the weight of other trash or bulldozers to open and release their garbagey goodness to gulls and the elements.

You hope. What often happens is that the food doesn’t get flushed thoroughly enough and you end up with a massive clog in your drain. It’s why garbage disposals are known as ‘a plumber’s best friend’. They’re really not intended to dispose of large amounts of material, just the rinsed bits off your plate after it has been scraped.

How about composting as a third option?

Composting is fine for vegetable waste, but not so great for meat and fatty waste.

I’ve often heard this and I accept it as valid but WHY is it true? It may not break down as quickly as vegetable matter but it should compost eventually, right? If I’m willing to accept slower rates of composting, what’s the problem?

It can draw vermin, like rats or even roaches depending where you live.

ETA - Mom won’t compost, and I don’t have the time tonight to write out all of how that is incredibly ironic.

It depends. Does your location have limited access to fresh clean water? Don’t use a disposal. Does your location lack easy access to sensible landfill/reclamation sites? Don’t trash. Really, on-site composting is the most sustainable, as long as you have the ability to do so, and a use for the finished product.

You just need to bury it, but you need a garden to be able to do that… and lots of places now don’t have gardens. My dogs and chickens also take care of any leftovers. My mum used to freeze any meat or fish scraps for my cat. That is also an option, if people don’t have pets and know people who do.

If I lived somewhere with a sink macerator, I’d use it. We don’t have them here (permanent water restrictions). Ultimately, it’s up to your mum what she wants to do, so all of our ideas aren’t of much practical help.

Mom is concerned about the environment to extents that she understands and this will help me explain to her what the impacts of different options are, so the discussion is of practical help and I appreciate it. She’s been on a well for the last 20 years along w/ a rain barrel system for watering, etc, on a little mountain in NC so she has a certain mindset about water use and the potential for vermin. My dad passed last year and there have been a lot of adjustments for her.

Not that I’m a cynic or anything, but I doubt there is a “yes” or “no” answer. You can read and read and read and end up none the wiser. Some from “column A”, some from “column B”, lots of special interest input (manufacturers want sales) etc. I think the best answer is to try not to have the waste. Eat it, give it to a dog, whatever. Problem solved. :smiley:
EDIT does she not have a garden at her new place? The other answer is a worm farm.

It can be done, it just requires a bit more care and knowledge.

Plant matter can break down anaerobically and slowly and still eventually produce something usable. If you tried to let meat scraps do that, you’d wind up with truly nasty sludge that’s probably quite dangerous to handle. Meat needs to be composted rapidly, aerobically and at high temperatures or there’s an unacceptably high risk of dangerous pathogens growing on it and surviving the process.

There are domestic composters which say they can cope with meat and cooked scraps that are enclosed to keep pests out and supposedly get round these problems, I know people who use them, but I’ve never really looked into them.

The place I study has a huge bio-digester thingy that breaks down any and all food scraps and produces safe compost; it takes a lot of monitoring and care to maintain the right temperature and I’ve been told there’s a minimum size for one to be effective. Plus it stinks, sometimes really badly. It’s very fast (IIRC it takes about 2 weeks start to finish) and gets through serious quantities of waste though.

Never ever, under any circumstances do you put anything down a food disposal unit other than gray water and such.

Disposals are a nightmare for city sewer systems. They do not want that sort of stuff in their pipes and plants.

Disposals are even worse for septic tank systems.

If you have one, take it out. It’s just a useless piece of junk.

We compost plant matter and throw out animal matter. If you can’t compost yourself, find someone who does, collect it and give it to them once a week or so.

My aunt has one of these compost tumblers which is free to me if I want to go pick it up. It needs some frame repair after somebody’s negligence while parking but a with few hours of work and some steel tubing, I own it.

I would like a good home composter but I don’t know if this is a good one that’s worth my time. I’m also worried that my one person home-stead wouldn’t produce enough bio-matter to keep it running smoothly. (I mulch grass clippings in place.) Thoughts?

cite please

If you have a septic tank NEVER have a disposall.
Septic tanks are bio digesters that work on one of two principles.
They are either aerobic or anaerobic.
Aerobic systems get oxygen mixed into the sewage either with an air compressor or mechanically.
Anaerobic systems are sealed against the intrusion of oxygen.
Both systems function very well when fed a diet of feces and urine. Adding anything else to the mix can throw the chemical reaction off, possibly killing it and add solids which have to be mechanically removed. This is the side of plumbing where plumbers really earn their money and you will be as happy as you can to pay that big bill.
Municipal sewer systems are pretty much the same story except they have no control over what you put into the pipes.
At the moment, the worst enemy for any sewage system is ‘flushable wipes’. They are normally a polyester (plastic) fabric which does not belong in any of the systems.

I live alone and use a composter myself. The one at the link is a beaut! Looks easy to use as well, the tumbling/turning is the worst part of composting for me. Every bit of my non-animal kitchen waste goes in it, and I’m surprised how that adds up over the course of a few months. My neighbors and I all have fruit trees and vegetable gardens so there’s always green if I need it to balance out the brown.

Figuring out a system for burying food waste that is produced continuously, but in small amounts, seems like it is going to be a pain to organise.