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Re: packing peanuts

A few years ago the City of Palo Alto did a quick evaluation of drain
disposal of starch peanuts and concluded that it would prefer to
recommend composting of the peanuts (you can run a bit of water over
them in the compost pile) rather than drain disposal as a regular
practice.  The starch in the peanuts increases BOD (biochemical oxygen
demand) in the sewer discharge, which could be a problem in some
geographic areas.  Many businesses with sewer discharge permits pay fees
that include BOD as one of the cost elements, so disposing of starch
pellets to the sewer would increase such businesses' costs. 

In general, we should not view the sewer as a place to dispose of any
type of waste, unless it cannot be avoided.  Even under the best
conditions, some portion of everything we put in the sewer system
reaches a river, estuary, or ocean.  While sewage treatment plants are
generally "good at" managing wastes like human wastes, even heavy
garbage disposal use can be a problem in some locations.  In some areas
(like the Chesapeake Bay), sewage treatment plant discharges of
pollutants (even "traditional" pollutants like the decomposition
products from starch) contribute to surface water impairment problems.  
Municipal sewage treatment plants were not designed to manage wastes
containing toxic pollutants (like metals, pesticides, and organic
solvents).  Although some of these pollutants are broken down, most
either go into the sludge (creating potential disposal issues) or into
the receiving water. 

Kelly Moran
TDC Environmental

Tammy Allen wrote:
> Does anyone have a list of vendors for the new starch-based packing peanuts and do you know if these peanuts, when dissolved down the drain, cause any additional loading on the wastewater?
> Tammy L. Allen
> Senior Environmental Specialist
> Pinellas County Environmental Management
> 512 S. Ft. Harrison Ave.
> Clearwater, FL  33763
> (727) 464-4761
> Fax (727) 464-3174
> e-mail: tallen@co.pinellas.fl.us
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