Our Waterworks Conundrum

I’d like to offer some thoughts regarding Jim Olsztynski’s recent column,“Our Waterworks Conundrum”(Supply House Times, August 2009, page 48) which I read with great interest. As you can imagine, InSinkErator pays close attention to the challenges associated with wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure, both in the U.S. and throughout the world, given that our major product - food waste disposers - interacts directly with those systems. Therefore, it’s easy to agree strongly with Jim Olsztynski’s primary thesis that the U.S. water, sewer and treatment systems are in need of substantial reinvestment to restore, maintain and upgrade these vital services.

His column noted two among the many possible methods for financing such improvements.

Another possibility - already being pursued by the leading wastewater treatment facilities - for promoting such investment and effectively managing operating costs is to boost the production and use of biogas that harnesses the inherent energy in liquid waste. The framework for pursuing such an opportunity requires a shift in thinking from “wastewater” to “liquid resource,” with a treatment facility’s “products” becoming clean water (suitable for reuse), biosolids (for re-fertilizing agricultural soils), and energy (for reducing on-site heating and electricity costs). Indeed, this sector also is beginning to promote the goal of wastewater treatment plants - which are notorious energy consumers - becoming energy self-sufficient over the next 20 years.

That’s where food scraps increasingly are recognized as a significant opportunity. Whether delivered by trucks or through sewers after being pulverized by food waste disposers, food scraps - averaging 70% water - are known to be energy rich, enhancing both the quality of biosolids products and boosting biogas production (with possible benefits in treating wastewater, too).

To that end, InSinkErator recently collaborated with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) on a public education campaign that encourages its customers in 27 communities to divert more of their food scraps via their disposers. Similar campaigns and incentive programs are in place in more than a dozen European cities that address policies that limit the landfilling of organic waste.

Apart from the significant business opportunity infrastructure reinvestment offers for the industry, thanks for promoting attention to this vital challenge to our nation and localities.

David MacNair
Vice president/marketing and brand officer
Racine, WI


In a feature story appearing in the August 2009 edition, “The PVF Market - Ugly But Not Despairing,” we gave an incorrect title for Anvil’s John Martin. He serves as Vice President of National Account Sales. We apologize for the error.

Jim Olsztynski