Disposers

Commercial disposers are an efficient method of eliminating food waste.

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A Guide to Disposers

Foodservice operators typically install disposers in dish tables and pot/pan sinks as well as in vegetable prep, salad prep and meat prep areas. This equipment helps reduce trash hauling costs by minimizing the amount of food tossed in the trash and reducing staff trips to the dumpster.

Commercial disposers can grind more items than residential types can. It is recommended operators use these systems for edible food waste only since waste like seafood shells, peels and corn husks can result in drain clogs.

The disposal of any effluent into a municipal wastewater or sewer system is typically governed under municipal bylaws or ordinances and enforced at the local level or through a regional municipal authority in accordance with state and federal environmental legislation. These ordinances detail limits of various materials and chemicals that can be present in effluent being disposed of into the municipal wastewater system.

Although the basic disposer design has not changed significantly over the years, operators can choose from a wide range of models. These systems also offer a choice of sizes, voltage, mounting and controls.

Disposers in commercial foodservice operations typically come equipped with a control, sink (or sink mount for existing sinks), stopper, water inlet hardware, back flow preventer, solenoid valve and flow control. These units work by using two weighted pieces on a spinning disk that throws food onto blades at the sides of the machine.

The system’s configuration and horsepower determine its operational capacity and volume. The majority of commercial disposers operate similarly to the residential type, with between ½ and 10 hp.

Controls range from the basic manual start/stop operation to more technologically advanced electronics that reduce water and energy use. Some disposers automatically reverse the cutting teeth to maximize the unit’s service life. Energy-saving models automatically determine when water is necessary and can turn the system off without an operator present.

There are a multitude of disposer materials available, with most providing an easy-to-maintain corrosion-resistant finish. Operators can choose from stainless-steel, aluminum and cast-iron versions that are either plated or coated.

Like materials, cutting mechanisms vary, ranging from durable stainless steel to rust-resistant nickel to high-strength austempered ductile iron.

Many disposers utilize rotor-fixed cutting teeth but some units feature swivel cutting teeth. A hammer mill grinder is also available. All types include a high-speed cutter located inside a stationary shredder ring.

Units are single or triple phase, using 115, 208, 230 or 460 volts. Operation is with either a standard electrical wall switch as with residential models or more sophisticated electronic controls for commercial units.

These units typically incorporate scrapping systems. While some systems include a disposer and use water for scrapping, others are installed in a trough application for multiple scrapping stations. Scrapping units may also use a basket instead of a disposer to collect insoluble food, while allowing solubles to wash down the drain.

Disposer options include flanged feet and remote start/stop switches. For additional durability, tungsten carbide cutter construction can be specified for easier processing of tough waste. Some units provide connections for external feeding/water recirculation troughs, while others include self-cleaning systems that enhance efficiency while saving labor.

Environmentally friendly disposers can save water and reduce costs over time. Systems on some units help regulate the amount of water going into the disposer according to the disposer’s current draw. A sensor automatically turns off the high water flow when the grinding application is completed.

Disposer control panels that are more technologically advanced may also save water and energy. An ultrasonic disposer system detects the operator’s presence at a scrap sink, cone sink or dishwasher. A unit like this will continue working as long as the sensor detects the individual’s presence. When no one is present, the disposer switches from a normal high-flow operation that utilizes 8 gallons of water per minute to utilizing 2 gallons of water per minute. If no one is detected in this area after 2 minutes, the system automatically shuts off.

There are specific disposer models geared for different applications. Models designed for the correctional market prevent tampering with optional offset shoots, which sit several inches from the sink drain. For added safety, units also can be equipped with tamper-proof screws and guards that prevent accidents.

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