Food waste disposers
An architect, John H Hammes first built a kitchen food waste disposer for his wife in 1928. Hammes came up with the idea in his basement to make kitchen clean-up work easier and to solve the major inconvenience of disposing of scraps of food.
By 1935 Hammes had perfected and patented the appliance which operates on the principle of centrifugal force to pulverise food waste against a stationary grind ring so it would easily flush down the drain. Eleven years of testing and development followed the creation of Hammes’ initial disposal unit. According to the Racine Sunday Bulletin: “As the years went on, he made different models and tried them out in his own kitchen sink. In 1938 he established, a company which is now the largest manufacturer of food waste disposers.
The UK food waste disposer market
In the UK food waste disposers are currently used in around 6% of homes, while 50% of households in the USA and 34% of households in New Zealand have used them for decades. In Australia, where they have been using them for over 25 year, 20% of homes have disposers.
In the US, around 80% of new homes have a food waste disposer and in Anaheim / Santa Ana, California (pop 2.8 million), they are in 94% of homes.
Today using a food waste disposer is more than a hygienic convenience. Food waste is viewed as an important source of renewable energy and fertiliser and using a food waste disposer, to send finely ground food scraps to waste water treatment, permits the recovery of both of these valuable resources, during sewage treatment.
Food waste disposers are typically rated between 0.4–0.5 kW. Requiring a very short run time, their energy and water use is minimal. Studies in Sweden have shown that each disposer can contribute over 20 times the energy that it uses, plus producing organic fertiliser to conserve soil nutrients.