Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUN 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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Food Waste Treatment and Disposal W aste collection systems range from the smallest undersink garbage disposers to larger, remote pulping systems that include a built-in grinder to send trash through pipes with water. This creates a slurry or sludge that then goes down the drain to the sewer system/water treatment plant. In some cases, larger operators might use a pulper/disposer aided by a water-assisted scrapper (fitted under standard sinks) in the dish room to rinse off and collect food waste from plates into a tank with greater speed and efficiency than by hand. Waste collectors can double or triple scrapping outputs with- out adding labor in the dish room and reduce food waste solids by 50 percent to 60 percent. They can also reduce water use at the prerinse stations because waste collectors use recirculated water with optional built-in shut-off timers. While operators typically use them in conjunction with disposers or pulper systems, scrappers can also work in con- junction with compost programs instead of sending the food waste down the drain. Operators can elect to fit grinders with a lift-out basket to dispose solids in compost bins rather than sending them to a digester to become a slurry that would go down the drain. The Disposer Debate Installing a durable, high-powered commercial disposer to send pulverized scraps, bones and more down the drain where it's treated at a local facility is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways operators can dispose of their food waste. It also helps divert organic material from landfills. But it's not always simple. On the heels of one major ban in Massachusetts, more municipalities across the country are now considering, or reconsidering, banning disposers because they simply don't have adequate waste water treatment facilities to handle that amount of food waste, or because they believe in the impor- tance of reusing or repurposing food waste in other ways. Disposers have been banned since 2014 in Massachusetts. New York City had a 20-year ban on garbage disposers, but that was lifted in 1997. The City of Raleigh, N.C., also banned disposers in 2008 following more than 100 major sewage spillovers in the previous 3 years. The lines of the debate around disposers remain heavily divided. Proponents of disposers — where they're allowed — say they offer a simple, inexpensive way for operators to avoid throwing food in the trash and are especially helpful in parts of the country where composting is challenging or costly. They can also cut down tremendously on hauling fees. Critics of the equipment, however, argue that, even in parts of the country where they're allowed and regularly used, municipalities should take a closer look at their water treatment facilities to ensure they can continue to withstand increasing waste loads over time. Some water treatment facilities these days seem to have trouble with this scenario. Disposer critics also cite the enormous amount of power and water consumption that disposers create because of the need for all the water treatment. Some environmentalists, and disposer critics, argue that instead of having wasted food literally go down the drain, why not try to recapture that waste and turn it into some- thing good, such as a soil amendment, to further try and close the food waste loop? Anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities also reuse food waste by converting it to a slurry that can be treated or turned into a soil amendment, while capturing methane to create natural energy sources. To add more complexity to the mix, should an operator choose to send its food waste to an anaerobic digestion facility, it's in their best interest to ensure that the AD facility then responsibly handles the slurry the process creates. This slurry, when treated with the right enzymes, can serve as a soil amendment to help grow more sustainable vegetables. It's important, however, for the operator send- ing the food waste to the AD system to ensure that the slurry doesn't just go down the drain either, assuming "closing the loop" is of importance to the operator. According to a 2011 study report by the Environmental Protection Agency and the East Bay Municipal Utility District, food waste produces three By Amelia Levin WASTE MANAGEMENT SERIES 96 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JUNE 2018

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