Garbage disposals have been available in America since the 1930s. But how many of you do actually use garbage disposals or have seen your acquaintances use them?
I rarely see garbage disposals in the households of many of the notable cities of America I visit.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2009, only 49% of households and homes had garbage disposals in their kitchen sink.
And it is still quite rare in major cities of America, including New York.
So, now the question stands, why is it so?
This question intrigued me about whether garbage disposals are banned in some places in America.
So, I tried to find out the cause behind it, which I’ll be explaining in this article today.
How Do Garbage Disposals Work?
A garbage disposal unit is a device that is installed under a kitchen sink between the sink’s drain and the trap.
They are powered by electricity to shred food wastes into very small particles of about less than 2mm so that they can easily pass through the plumbing system.
Garbage disposals are designed to be used in both residential and commercial places.
The advantages that make garbage disposals a handy kitchen tool include that they reduce the burden of additional food wastes on the waste management systems by linking the food wastes with the septic system.
Garbage disposals are a great solution to the harm to the environment caused by the food scraps in landfills.
Because food scraps in landfills decompose and produce methane gas which highly contributes to global warming, these decomposed food scraps also harm the underground water.
However, these advantages delivered by garbage disposals are not enough for them to be widely accepted in all areas of America.
There are quite a good number of disadvantages associated with garbage disposals as well, for which they aren’t supported in all areas of America.
Which American States Banned Garbage Disposal?
Many particular areas of America do not support and discourage garbage disposal for logical reasons. And many other townships and villages have banned the use of garbage disposal along with severe penalties if violated.
Surprisingly, garbage disposals were also actually banned by some of the states of America, including New York and North Carolina, at different periods of time.
Even though these bans are lifted now, the causes of banning this system and its utility are still debatable.
Till now, many particular areas of America do not support and discourage garbage disposal for logical reasons.
And many other townships and villages have banned the use of garbage disposal along with severe penalties if violated.
Moreover, there are a good number of individual landlords who do not support and restrict their houses from the use of garbage disposals in major cities of the USA, including New York.
And this is the main reason why garbage disposal is seen in a very limited amount.
Are Garbage Disposals Illegal in New York (NYC)?
Garbage disposals were illegal in New York City during the 1970s.
It was made illegal due to the concern of damaging old pipelines and sewage systems of the city.
Moreover, many other hideous concerns might create a second thought in your mind about garbage disposal.
One of the craziest concerns by NY police was that the dead bodies of a murdered victim might get disposed of by the murderer in a garbage disposal.
If this concern isn’t scary enough to ban garbage disposals, some even feared that people might throw babies down them.
And due to all these horrifying reasons, garbage disposals were illegal at that time.
Later, after months of trial and observation of using garbage disposals in selected residential, in 1997, garbage disposals were finally announced legal in NYC.
But still, only a limited number of houses I visited so far had garbage disposal systems in New York City.
Now, the question is, why so?
Even after being legal, garbage disposal remains unaccepted by a good number of homeowners in New York City, especially in the older residential buildings.
That is because the owners do not want to risk their old sewage system with the pressure of garbage disposals.
Also, the stigma related to garbage disposal is still prevalent in many houses in New York City as they still believe it’s illegal, whereas it’s not.
Are Garbage Disposals Illegal in New Jersey?
Moreover, using garbage disposals illegally in those areas is penalized with a lifetime ban on getting city water.
This is because of the massive amount of pressure exerted on the treatment system due to the garbage disposal system.
Besides, in most villages of New Jersey, older pipes of the waste line tend to have a lot of mud and scaling.
So, additional ground wastes by garbage disposals might result in clots, overflows, backflows, and property damage.
On the other hand, in other places in New Jersey, garbage disposals are legal, with a number of rules and protocols to be strictly maintained. Each municipality of New Jersey follows its own sets of rules and guidelines.
Hence, they somewhat differ from each other.
But some of the common rules followed in most New Jersey municipalities include using proper trash containers, not including hazardous waste, not mixing recyclables with trash, not including yard waste, and following bulk item protocol.
Are Garbage Disposals Illegal on Long Islands?
Long Islands is a place that disposes of 22% more garbage than all other New York places. Many people think that maybe garbage disposals are illegal on the long islands. But that is not true.
As I have mentioned before, garbage disposals have been legalized in New York since 1997.
Long Islands being one of the most densely populated parts of the state of New York, falls under the authority of New York.
And so, as the NYC Department of Environmental Protection lifted the ban on garbage disposals for New Yorkers, it definitely includes Long Islands too. And thus, garbage disposals are legal on Long Islands.
Although many homeowners of the Long Islands may not allow them in their houses.
Are Garbage Disposals Illegal in Massachusetts?
Garbage Disposals are not illegal in Massachusetts, but they’re also not encouraged much.
The Massachusetts government has strictly encouraged citizens to have garbage disposals to limit their use severely.
Moreover, the government of MA also discourages citizens who don’t already have a garbage disposal with a septic tank to have one.
There is a list of guidelines provided by the MA government on their official website about the proper and legitimate way of using garbage disposals and septic systems.
Therefore, though garbage disposals are legal in MA, they are highly discouraged by their administration.
Are Garbage Disposals Illegal in North Carolina?
As recently as 2008, the installation of garbage disposals was banned in Raleigh North Carolina.
This ban was also extended to the surrounding towns that shared the city’s municipal sewage system.
But this ban did not last more than a month. The city’s municipality cancelled it just after a month of announcing the ban.
Therefore, presently, using and installing garbage disposals in North Carolina is legal and absolutely authorized, including in Raleigh and its surrounding areas.
Are Garbage Disposals Required by Code in America?
The New York Septic Code considers garbage disposals an unnecessary burden when estimating the pressure exerted on a septic tank. Hence, they are not really required by the code of America.
There are a number of reasons behind that.
Garbage disposals put a lot of strain on the septic tanks as the discharges from garbage disposals are specifically more greasy and solid.
And for these reasons, the septic tank needs to be pumped more than it would otherwise require. This additional stress on septic tanks reduces their lifespan as well.
Even though garbage disposals have many advantages, the shortcomings and risks of using garbage disposals cannot be completely ignored.
So, now I understand why I have never seen any garbage disposal in a relatively old residential building.
The rules and regulations on using garbage disposals vary from one place to another in America.
So, if you’re trying to know whether it’s legal in your area or not, you can simply call the code enforcement office of your area or check the website of your local government.
Also, try to find out whether there is any specific guideline provided by the local government of your area on using and installing garbage disposals.
I hope the information I have tried to provide in this article was helpful for you.
If there is any suggestion, I will give someone planning to use the garbage disposal to properly make sure it suits your location and plumbing system because it is essential.
Thanks for reading till the end!
James is an organic fertilizer professional who owns a successful organic fertilizer company in new jersey. He is an expert in waste management in both houses and community cases. In his free time, he loves to write about his experiences in the field.