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Different Types of Garbage Disposal Systems for the Kitchen Sink

Updated on February 18, 2012
Home kitchen sinks often have garbage disposers installed to help get rid of kitchen waste.
Home kitchen sinks often have garbage disposers installed to help get rid of kitchen waste. | Source

Sink Disposal System Types

Most household kitchen sinks will have a disposal system attached to one of the drains. The three main types are continuous feed, batch feed, and septic system models. All three work to grind food to be flushed down the drain.

  • Continuous Feed Models
    These types of disposals are hard-wired to a switch that is placed away from the sink area, generally on a wall or backsplash within arm's length. Continuous feed disposals turn on and off with that switch, and the opening or mouth to the disposal, remains open for continuous feeding of kitchen scraps when it is on.To help prevent food from flying out, there is generally a rubber ring that looks like teeth that surround the opening. This allows scraps and food to be dropped inside without it spitting back out.
  • Batch Feed Models
    These are safer models as the only way it is turned on is with a special cap being placed over it. Food and kitchen scraps are placed inside the disposal area along with water in batches. The cap or cover is placed on top and is turned, and the machine goes on.
  • Septic Sewer Models
    Homeowners with a septic tank on their property will want a septic sewer model. The models made specifically for septic tanks, with cartridges with containing material that helps break down waste. For septic sewer properties, certain foods should not be used in the garbage disposal as they have trouble breaking down and contributes greatly to the septic sludge that eventually builds up.

Items to Avoid Putting in a Garbage Disposer

Things to avoid putting down a garbage disposal unit because of jamming or clogs:

  • banana peels
  • onion or leek ends
  • pits (hard pits from fruits, like cherries)
  • paper products (like paper napkins) - place those in the trash after a meal
  • artichoke leaves and celery stalks (particularly fibrous vegetables)

Also, refer to the owners manual since different models will have different cutting capacities and horse power.

The Disposal-Free Movement

Think everyone has a garbage disposal system attached to their sink? Not everyone has one installed in their home, and it has nothing to do kitchen schematics, or whether or not one can be installed. Here are some considerations when using a garbage disposal for household waste:

  1. They use up water. Disposals work with water to grind and flush the kitchen scraps down the drain.
  2. Sewage discharge from processing may result in dead zones in the coastal ocean areas, due to an excess of nutrients, 'nutrient pollution'.
  3. They can lead to problems with the septic system if your house is hooked to a septic tank.

According to, the best alternative to having a garbage disposal in the kitchen is creating your own compost pile in the yard for all the kitchen scraps, like fruit and vegetable cuttings.

Removing a Sink Garbage Disposer

Installing a Sink Garbage Disposer


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