In early March, the Raleigh, NC City Council approved a ban on installing any new and replacement garbage disposal units as a way to reduce sewage overflows. The ordinance does not prohibit selling disposers. 

According to local news reports, some area plumbers and hardware store owners are not so sure the ban will work the way it’s intended, and question how it will be enforced.

Disposal manufacturer InSinkErator quickly responded to the ordinance, and even though the council took the action without soliciting public discussion, much discussion has ensued.

“As soon as InSinkErator found out about it, we initiated discussions with city officials and other authorities in an effort to get the ban reversed,” says David MacNair, vice president of marketing with InSinkErator. The company told PM it was scheduled to attend the next city council meeting and was “cautiously optimistic” that, when presented with the facts from numerous studies, the city would reverse its decision.

The new ordinance prohibits any new garbage disposals from being connected to the city’s sewer system. Those who already have the disposals installed can continue use them, but if they break they cannot be replaced.

Local reports say city leaders believe food and grease being thrown down the drain have caused a number of sewage overflows. Neighboring towns included on Raleigh’s water system also will have to follow the ban.

The state is now issuing violations for “environmentally improper” sewer overflows, InSinkErator informed PM.

However, InSinkErator believes the decision was made without all the facts.

“The research is clear that there is no established relationship between the use of disposers and sewer clogging,” MacNair told PM. “Sanitary sewer overflows are related to many issues "

Fun Fact from PM's "

When disposers were first introduced in the 1930s, many municipalities were concerned about their impact on sewage treatment systems. However, by 1960 they were required in new construction by ordinance in more than 100 communities because of their sanitary value. Much like the water closet, a disposer immediately removes food waste from the home through sewerage pipes to treatment plants, where it can be treated and recycled into fertilizer.