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Updated: 15th April 2018 06:56

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Where does all that garburator waste end up?

People seem to either love them or hate them. Some communities have outright banned them. But where does the waste you put in your garbage disposal unit end up?

People seem to either love them or hate them. Some communities have outright banned them.

Where does garburator waste go? 0:37

People seem to either love them or hate them. Some communities have outright banned them. But where does the waste you put in your garbage disposal unit end up?

Those in-sink units that can bust up solid food waste, often called garburators, create two types of waste, a Calgary official tells CBC News.

"The majority of that material is captured by our screens," said Sarah Huber.

"If the material cannot penetrate the screens, it's scrapped and taken to the landfill. The material that does pass through the screen is treated as part of our wastewater."

Huber is the asset planning leader with the city's water resources department.

Sarah Huber of the city's water resources department says Calgary doesn't have an opinion on the use of in-sink garbage disposal units, but they put a strain on resources. (Dave Will/CBC)

She says that while Calgary does not have an official position on the units, they certainly put on strain on resources.

"It does reduce the capacity of our wastewater system both in collection as well as treatment," Huber said.

"Source-separated organics is the preferred method for us, our system is designed that way."

She's talking about Calgary's green cart food and yard waste program and composting facility.

Garburator waste that is small enough to get past the screens does make it to the composting facility, eventually.

"To get there, it's very complex and requires a number of treatment steps that are unnecessary if you just put that material in your green cart," said Sharon Howland of the city's waste and recycling services department.

"The green cart program is a cost-effective and efficient way to manage food and yard waste."

But Howland concedes: "It is your choice."

Grant Ferguson of Caledonian Plumbing and Heating says garburators are convenient and reduce insects and mice associated with composting. (Dave Will/CBC)

And Grant Ferguson of Caledonian Plumbing and Heating is glad that's the case.

"I think it's a super convenient way to process food waste. About a quarter of the waste from a house is food waste," Ferguson said.

"It's a hygienic, no-nonsense, easy, convenient way of processing food waste. I think it's good to prevent insects, mites, mice, different things like that."

Not everyone agrees, though.

Some cities in the United States and Canada have banned them, while others are reversing bans.

Metro Vancouver officials have said clogged sewers from garburator use costs about $2 million a year.

And the Town of Cochrane has banned them in newly constructed homes, recently reaffirming the ban by defeating a repeal motion in February.

Waste dropped into an in-sink garbage disposal either ends up at Calgary's composting facility or the landfill, depending on the size. (Dave Will/CBC)

With files from CBC's Dave Will

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