Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Why Don’t New York Apartments Have Garbage Disposals? Common Waste Removal Issues for Condos and Co-Ops

As a property owner in New York City, you may receive numerous requests for garbage disposals. The devices are legal in NYC but uncommon, especially in prewar buildings and other older, high-rise structures.

Why don’t New York apartments have garbage disposals? The answer is straightforward: The city banned them until 1997. As to why the devices still don’t exist in many buildings, the objections are similar to why the ban occurred in the first place: a lack of sufficient infrastructure.

Why Don’t New York Apartments Have Garbage Disposals?

1970s Law

The garbage disposal, invented by John W. Hammes in 1927, was relatively uncommon until after World War II. The popularity of kitchen modernization and remodeling drove the nationwide installation trend.

In NYC, officials became nervous over the aging sewer system and the introduction of raw organic refuse. Officials also worried about the increase of waste in nearby rivers and waterways. To curb concerns, the city adopted a ban in the 1970s to protect vital infrastructure and ecosystems.

Most New Yorkers did not mind the ban because disposals were initially cost-prohibitive and noisy. However, as the devices became more common and concerns over ecosystem and infrastructure threats dissipated, NYC reconsidered its ban. The consideration came after a lengthy trial period with hundreds of participants.

1997 Reversal

The road to a ban reversal took work. Norman Steisel, First Deputy Mayor of NYC, played a crucial role in legislation over garbage disposers. Beyond holding a seat in Mayor David Dinkins’ administration (1990-1993), Steisel also served as Sanitation Commissioner for several years.

Steisel knew the city depended on landfills and was still implementing a feasible recycling program. He also understood apartments have garbage disposals across the country without significant issues. Steisel suggested a joint project between the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Environmental Protection to uncover the device’s potential financial and ecological benefits.

The DSNY and DEP study ran for 21 months and included 200 devices installed across the city — results compared apartments with the disposers against those without in the same building. The final report, authored by the DEP, suggested the city could save an estimated $4 million in solid waste export costs by permitting disposer installations with minimal effects on existing infrastructure and ecosystems.

The findings shaped legislation. In 1997, under the Rudy Giuliani administration, the city lifted the ban on garbage disposals. Still, despite the change in legislation, few New York apartments have garbage disposals.

Prewar Infrastructure

Many buildings in New York City predate World War II. When real estate agents talk about prewar buildings, they mainly refer to properties erected between 1900 and 1939; however, some prewar buildings date back to the 1880s.

Infrastructure in older structures is less durable than modern sewers and plumbing. Installing garbage disposals could present challenges to the existing systems, possibly with catastrophic results.

Pervasive Myths

Beyond the potential risk to sewer lines, many pervasive myths persist in NYC. Some believe garbage disposals may contribute so much excess waste into the sewers that it causes sewage spillover. The disaster may pollute waterways or land areas. Also, many landlords still believe a ban is in effect because few apartments have the device.

In response to disposals producing excessive waste resulting in potential spillover, residents and property owners must recognize the capabilities of the NYC sewer system. The existing system can handle 1.2 billion gallons of refuse daily. If all NYC properties suddenly installed disposers, the devices would only contribute 3 million gallons of additional waste — less than 1% of the system’s capabilities.

Costs and Maintenance Concerns

Many New York apartments don’t have garbage disposals because of installation costs and maintenance concerns. Initial installation costs are around $600 per apartment, which is difficult for property owners to justify, especially when many see the appliance as unnecessary. After all, if people scrape their plates before washing them, there is no need for a device that pulverizes food waste, right? It is a preventative tool.

Aside from the installation costs, landlords worry about maintenance issues. Putting things into the system it cannot handle can damage the device or cause blockages and problems in the waste lines of the building. While disposals can’t handle everything, such as non-biodegradable items, egg shells, various vegetable and fruit peels, and other items, they can handle most food waste.

Like other pervasive myths, people often overstate maintenance issues. A modern disposer can last upwards of 10 years without issue. The pulverization mechanisms of current models reduce the risks of clogs. Still, building owners are the gatekeepers to installation, and tenants must seek permission.

Where Can You Install Garbage Disposals in New York?

Brownstones, Townhouses, and Anywhere With Permission

Most New York rentals with garbage disposals are recently renovated brownstones or townhouses with newer plumbing systems. Still, renovations don’t also mean disposer upgrades are wise investments.

Depending on the property’s age and the surrounding infrastructure, a full-gut remodel does not always mean installation is appropriate. While the interior plumbing may be new, the existing city infrastructure might be 100 years old or older.

To ensure your building can handle the upgrade to in-unit garbage disposals, talk to an architect or licensed plumber. Sanitary Plumbing can assess your existing system to try and abate any reservations.

What If Tenants Install an Illegal or Unpermitted Garbage Disposal?

Undercover Installations and Liabilities

As a property owner, you know tenants often try to get away with things their leases don’t permit, such as pets or sneaky installations. Some tenants may install garbage disposals without seeking permission or after the property owner denies it.

If the property is not retrofitted for disposers, the devices may cause problems, including backups and pipe breaks. You are not liable for the damage caused by an unpermitted installation; the tenant who installed the device is.

Why Don’t New York Apartments Have Garbage Disposals?

Aging Infrastructure Is the Primary Culprit

Why don’t New York apartments have garbage disposals? The main reason is the aging infrastructure, but that is not all. Pervasive myths, prohibitive costs, and disinterest also contribute to the lack of disposers. Contact Sanitary Plumbing at 212-734-5000 to discuss installation or learn more about garbage disposals, which are legal and valuable devices.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of Antler.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with Antler.nyc). We may collect and store the following personal information:

  • Name, email, address, telephone number, and (depending on the service used), move-in dates;
  • Transactional information (such as lease terms, lease parties);
  • Computer sign-on data, statistics on page views, and traffic to and from the Website; and
  • Other information, including IP address and other web log information.

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

  • Improve our services and the Website’s content and layout;
  • Provide the services and necessary customer support you request;
  • Resolve disputes, collect fees, and troubleshoot problems;
  • Track and record customer satisfaction with our services;
  • Protect the Company against error and fraud;
  • Inform you of special promotions and announcements;
  • Enforce our agreements, terms, conditions, and policies; and
  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with Sanitaryplumbing.com.

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

4. Links to Other Sites.

The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

5. Safety & Security Precautions.

The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Antler Pump & Motor Corporation, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

6. Opt-Out.

The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Antler Pump & Motor Corporation. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

7. Account Protection.

Your password ensures the security of your account. When choosing a password, the Company suggests using various characters. It is highly recommended that you do not disclose your Sanitaryplumbing.com password to anyone. (If you do disclose your password or your personal information with others, you are responsible for all actions taken in the name of your account.) If the security of your password is compromised for any reason, please contact the Company immediately.

8. Accuracy of Information

The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

9. Cookies

The Company may place a small cookie on your computer’s hard drive. This allows us to personalize your use on the Website. In order to maximize the functionality and usability of the Website, you must set your browser’s preferences to allow both permanent and temporary cookies.

10. Changing Your Personal Information.

Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since Antler.nyc does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.