ADAMS — Don’t panic, but using a garbage disposal to dispose of food waste from the kitchen might not be such a good idea.
In fact, after 52 years, a bylaw requiring every new residential unit to have a garbage disposal installed in the kitchen sink was overturned by voters at the recent Adams town hall.
City administrator Jay Green says the cancellation effort is partly because garbage disposals aren’t helpful in the fight to minimize the impacts of climate change, and partly because it’s Turns out it’s not an essential device and adds to the cost. to build new houses in town.
The bylaw requiring garbage disposal was enacted in 1970. Today, no one who works at City Hall can remember why it was enacted in the first place, Green said.
He noted that the state plumbing code doesn’t require the fixture, and the city doesn’t usually go beyond what state plumbing codes require.
“A trash can is useless, and it doesn’t hurt not to have one,” Green said. “And we can’t find a reason why the requirement was on the books, if there’s no public safety function. Our goal is not to unnecessarily increase the cost of construction.
He noted that a construction contractor brought it to the city’s attention and prompted a policy review.
Green said acids from discarded food can end up damaging metal pipes and it costs the city more money to run the sewage treatment process because the solid waste has to go through a “massive” grinder. which requires more electricity.
He said homeowners and contractors can install a garbage disposal if they wish. They just won’t have to do that from now on.
“If that turns out to be a problem, we can always put it back together,” Green said.
For a multi-unit builder, the installation cost can be significant. And replacing damaged pipes is also a major cost driver, Green noted. There are no other cities, at least locally, that have this requirement.
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In New York, garbage disposal in homes was prohibited until the ban was reversed in 1997. Garbage disposal in commercial buildings such as restaurants is still illegal in New York.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Edmund Coletta provided information that illustrates how waste disposal in a home can affect building code requirements.
Septic tank size requirements increase by 50% when a “garbage disposal” is installed. It is also necessary for the system to be upgraded to meet the additional capacity requirements before installing a garbage disposal.
Pumping the septic tank is usually required at least once every three years, but is recommended annually for a system with a garbage disposal.
The Federal Environmental Protection Agency does not approve the use of garbage disposals.
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EPA guidelines state that garbage disposals require more water to operate, so they are contraindicated, especially in areas with water shortages.
The EPA considers reducing food waste to be the greenest option. The second most effective tactic is to distribute excess food to the hungry. Other options include industrial uses, such as converting waste oils into fuel and food scraps into energy. Then comes composting, either by communities or in backyards.
According to the EPA, landfills and incinerators, where the “mulch” resulting from processed food waste in water treatment facilities, are the least environmentally friendly destination for food waste.