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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

InSinkErator is a company based in Racine, Wisconsin, that manufacturers grinders. In its own words, it "is the world's largest manufacturer of food waste disposers and instant hot water dispensers for home and commercial use." It is a division of St. Louis, Missouri-based Emerson, which calls itself "a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to provide innovative solutions to customers through its network power, process management, industrial automation, climate technologies, and appliance and tools businesses. Sales in fiscal 2009 were $20.9 billion and Emerson is ranked 117th on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies."[1]

InSinkErator is a proponent of spreading Toxic sludge on agricultural land.[2]

Involvement with the Toxic Sludge Industry

According to InSinkErator, "The matter of biosolids is directly related to the assessment of the environmental benefits of using food waste disposers to convert food scraps into a liquid resource for processing by wastewater treatment plants. All such plants produce raw sludge and increasingly, modern plants further process that material into fertilizer products commonly known as biosolids. These processes and materials are regulated by the U.S. EPA and various state agencies in order to ensure their quality and guide their beneficial use for a variety of fertilizer and land reclamation purposes. Increasingly, the heat and energy produced by these processes are the subject of interest for treatment plants."[2]

"Biosolids" is the Orwellian PR euphemism for toxic sewage sludge.

A list of just some of the hazardous chemicals and pathogens found in sludge can be found in the article Sludge contaminants. Sludge contaminants include Dioxins and Furans, Flame Retardants, Metals, Organochlorine Pesticides, 1,2-Dibromo-3-Chloropropane (DBCP), Naphthalene, Triclosan, Nonylphenols, Phthalates, Nanosilver, and thousands more substances. "Sewage is the mix of water and whatever wastes from domestic and industrial life are flushed into the sewer. ... We must note that, though the aim of sewage treatment is to produce clean water, it is never to produce 'clean' sludge. Indeed, the 'dirtier' the sludge - the more complete its concentration of the noxious wastes - the more the treatment has done its job. ... very waste produced in our society that can be got rid of down toilets and drains and that can also be got out of the sewage by a given treatment process will be in the sludge. Sludge is thus inevitably a noxious brew of vastly various and incompatible materials unpredictable in themselves and in the toxicity of their amalgamation, incalculably but certainly wildly dangerous to life." [3]

Disposing of Sludge by Spreading it on Agricultural Land

According to InSinkErator, "Decades of experience and hundreds of studies regarding biosolids recycling make it unlikely that there are any significant negative surprises yet to be discovered about this form of recycling. A comprehensive National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council review of the Part 503 biosolids management program in 1996 found biosolids use on food and other crops presents 'negligible risk' when conducted in accordance with federal regulations."[2]

According to Sludge News, however, "[t]he policy of disposing of sludge by spreading it on agricultural land - a policy given the benign term 'land application' - has its inception in the Ocean Dumping ban of 1987. Before 1992, when the law went into effect, the practice had been, after extracting the sludge from the wastewater, to load it on barges and dump it 12, and later 106 miles off shore into the ocean. But many people who cared about life in the ocean knew that, wherever it was dumped, the sludge was causing vast dead moon-scapes on the ocean floor. New EPA regulations for 'land application' were promulgated in 1993. With the aid of heating and pelletizing and some slippery name morphs along the way, EPA claimed sludge could be transmogrified into 'compost' ... . But the land “application” of sewage sludge ... will pollute the whole chain of life for which soil is the base." [4]

More recent studies differ from the study quoted by InSinkErator, such as the forthcoming January 2012 "Metal stress and decreased tree growth in response to biosolids application in greenhouse seedlings and in situ Douglas-fir stands" in the journal Environmental Pollution (available online in November 2011), which found that "phytochelatins – bioindicators of intracellular metal stress – were elevated in foliage of biosolids-amended stands, and significantly higher in roots of seedlings grown with fresh biosolids. These results demonstrate that biosolids amendments have short- and long-term negative effects that may counteract the expected tree growth benefits.”[5] Even the sludge industry front group, the Water Environment Federation, published a study in Water Environment Research in September 2011 which found "higher densities of indicator bacteria after dewatering of anaerobically digested biosolids," such as "fecal coliform and E. coli."[6]

As the Centers for Disease Control are fully aware after a 2009 salmonella outbreak resulting from seeds sold for sprouting by Caudill Seed, pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli can get right inside the seed head.[7]

Participant in the 2011 BioCycle 11th Annual Conference on "Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling"

InSinkErator's Casey Furlong was a participant in the 2011 BioCycle 11th Annual Conference on "Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling." BioCycle Magazine is a publication serving the interests of the sewage sludge industry.[8]

InSinkErator Senior Consultant's Support of the Toxic Sludge Industry

Kendall Christiansen], the principal of Gaia Strategies and senior consultant for InSinkerator, is mentioned in documents obtained under an open records investigation of collusion among the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and various external individuals and entities in the defense and promotion of promoting sewage sludge as "organic biosolids compost." (See Chez Sludge for background information. SFPUC Open Records Investigation 2010 is an article containing a list of all individuals mentioned in the internal documents.)


4700 21st Street
Racine, WI 53406
Phone: (262) 554-5432


Other SourceWatch Resources


  1. InSinkErator, About, corporate website, accessed November 5, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 InSinkErator, Beneficial Re-use of "Biosolids", corporate website, accessed November 5, 2011
  3. About Sewage Sludge,, Accessed June 18, 2010.
  4. About Sewage Sludge,, accessed June 18, 2010
  5. Erica T. Cline, Quyen T.N. Nguyen, Lucy Rollins and James E. Gawel, Metal stress and decreased tree growth in response to biosolids application in greenhouse seedlings and in situ Douglas-fir stands, Environmental Pollution, Volume 160, January 2012, Pages 139-144
  6. Yen-Chih Chen, Sudhir N. Murthy, Donald Hendrickson, Gordon Araujo and Matthew J. Higgins, The Effect of Digestion and Dewatering on Sudden Increases and Regrowth of Indicator Bacteria after Dewatering, Water Environment Research, Volume 83, Number 9, September 2011 , pp. 773-783(11)
  7. Adam Walser, Former employee accuses company of trying to bring tainted product to market, WHAS11, October 27, 2011
  8. BioCycle, Exhibitor Directory, publisher's website, accessed November 3, 2011
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