Waste disposal units, love them or hate them?

In Christchurch we are lucky enough to have our green waste collected and commercially composted which does take away a lot of the need for an alternative waste disposal method. The introduction of these council initiatives, the resurgence of home composting and the growing awareness of our environmental impact have all resulted in a reduction in the installation of waste disposal units.  Often though, it is what you are used to, and it comes down to personal preference.  One thing is for sure though, at some stage the unit is going to come to the end of its life. 

Is your waste disposal unit not working?  First thing to do would be to check that it is not still under warranty.   When problems occur with older units its often unable to be repaired, or it is just not cost effective to do so.  In this situation you are really only left with two options:

  1. Replace the existing unit with a new one or
  2. Remove the unit and replace with a new basket waste, converting it to function as a normal sink

If you are looking at replacing your existing one with a new unit there are a few pros and cons you might like to consider. 


People do find them convenient; it does mean that you can just deal with your kitchen waste straight away and depending on your individual circumstances this may be preferable to utilising other waste options. Kerbside collection is not always available and composting meat and dairy can be problematic as it can attract unwanted bugs and vermin.

Stops kitchen scraps from ending up in landfill

Often a main argument for waste disposal units is that it diverts food scraps from landfill. In actual fact depending on how water and waste is treated in your area, it may just end up in landfill anyway as it will likely be screened out at the entrance of the wastewater treatment plant.  However, in Christchurch there are other options for food waste disposal, most notably being the green waste kerbside collection, so please check with your local council about your options.


As with anything mechanical they will require care and maintenance.  You will need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get the best out of your unit.  They can clog or jam so understanding what to do in these situations is important.  As it wears it can also start to cut the scraps larger which may cause occasional blockage in the waste pipe.

Depending on the make and model there may be certain foods that shouldn’t be put down the waste disposal which means you would still need to have an alternative option for dealing with your food scraps. 

Extra water usage

Water is a hot topic these days and a precious resource.  While it’s not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things you do need to use more water in order to operate these properly.

Environmental impact

Are waste disposal units environmentally friendly?  Depending on which article you read, waste disposal units can be touted as good or bad for the environment.  There are plenty of arguments for both, it seems to depend on whether you are selling them, installing them or dealing with the effects of them as to which camp you fall into.  It is also probably dependent what waste management facilities are available in your area and how wastewater is processed and treated.  It’s worth doing some research on this before making your decision.

What you need

Aside from the other considerations its worth thinking about what you actually need.  For example, are you planning on staying in your property for quite some time?  This may influence the price bracket and quality of the unit that you look at. 

There are a few things to weigh up and consider before you make your decision.  Whatever you decide, Custom Plumbing Services Ltd are more than happy to help with the replacement or total removal of the waste disposal unit.  If you have yet to make a final decision and you would like to discuss the options further, as well as talking through your specific situation, then please do contact us.  Of course, one of the biggest questions on people’s minds is how much will this cost?  The best way to get an idea of price and price options is to contact us directly as each situation can be different. It depends on a number of things, firstly which option you decide to take, replacement or removal.

So which option is cheaper?

While cost isn’t always everything it can certainly have an impact on our decision making.  If you have a single sink, then it does make the replacement slightly easier.  If you have a double sink, then it can be a little more time intensive to replace which does increase the cost.  And while different jobs can vary, and there is not a one price fits all, more often than not it is actually cheaper to remove your unit and replace with a standard basket waste (basically a plug that catches the food scraps before they go down the drain).  By the time you purchase the unit and take into account the labour time for a plumber to install, is often just not cost effective to replace.

At the end of the day the decision is yours, based on your personal preference and situation.  Custom Plumbing Services Ltd is more than happy to help with advice where required and if requested, complete the job quickly and professionally. 

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