Garburators, Composting and Our Environment….

There has been a debate about garburators going on for many years.  Are they helping or hurting our environment?  Let’s try to look at both sides…


Clearly using a garburator is much better than throwing your leftover food scraps in the garbage.  Disposals definitely help to reduce the food waste that hits our landfills.  This is a benefit!  Garbage disposals grind up the food waste into tiny pieces that can be sent down your drain and then treated at local wastewater facilities.  They also cut down on food smells until garbage day comes!  

They do need to be used properly and sending the wrong type of food waste down the disposal can cause problems.  Fruit pits, coffee grounds, egg shells, potato peels, grease, fibrous foods and bones should never be put down the garbage disposal. 

If you don’t have a way to compost your food waste a garbage disposal is a great option!


These disposals can cause extra work for the local wastewater facilities.  These food particles have to be filtered out and then the solids left can be used for fertilizers or they are then sent to the landfill.   This can cause extra work for the local treatment facilities but most are made to handle it well.  

There is concern that garburators increase the nutrient loads and decrease the oxygen levels in our rivers.  Airdrie sewage is pre-treated with nutrients to eliminate sulfides before it is pumped  to the City of Calgary treatment plant.  Once the sewage is treated by the City of Calgary it is released into the Bow River.  Keeping our waterways clean is something we can all take a part in! 

Another concern is the amount of water a garburator uses when most places are trying conserve water.  

Finally, the most environmental way to dispose of our food waste is composting.  Most communities now have composting programs available.  If that is not something you can do, a garburator is a great choice as well!  Just make sure you are careful about what you put down there and how much water you use.  If you need a garburator installed OR removed….. Call Paul because He loves this stuff! 


To Flush or not to Flush?

Basically, there are 3 things you can always flush…we can probably name them but here we go

Toilet Paper


Excrement (Poop)

Here is why.  The wastewater makes a bit of a journey after you flush.  It goes one of two places, either to a septic tank or to the local communities sewage plant.   Prior to reaching the sewage plant it goes through a type of screen made of rods that filter larger objects.  After that it goes into a settling tank where solids like sand/gravel/grit can settle to the bottom.  It is at these beginning treatment stations that other “flushables” get removed.  

About 50-60% of “non-dispersible” materials in our wastewater is paper towel from public bathrooms,  20-25% is baby wipes and the rest is made up of a variety of items that should not be flushed.  Finally after the wastewater travels through these primary sediment tanks, it continues getting cleaned via aeration tanks, more settling tanks and in many cases tertiary treatment facilities where it is disinfected using UV light and chlorine.  

Roughly only 25% of the world even has treatment facilities to clean their water.  We are fortunate here in Canada that we have clean water and good treatment facilities so we need to take good care of them!  We don’t want to damage the plumbing in our own homes or cause damage at the facilities that treat our water.

Some common items that should not be flushed:

  1. Paper Towel/Kleenex
  2. Cosmetic/Baby/Wet Wipes
  3. Feminine Products
  4. Dental Floss
  5. Cotton Balls
  6. Diapers 
  7. Pills
  8. Cigarette Butts
  9. Hair
  10. Gum
  11. Grease/oil
  12. Band-Aids
  13. Cat Litter
  14. Dryer Sheets

A great way to know if something is flushable, put the item in a bowl of water, wait a few hours, try swishing the product and see if it breaks down.  If it doesn’t then don’t flush it!  Easy!

As always, if you think something is stuck in your toilet (or sink) you can always give Paul at PMC Plumbing a call because…. He Loves This Stuff (ok maybe not plugged toilets but call him anyhow!). 587-583-5495