Garbage disposals, though they seem complex, are actually quite simple devices and are considered by many to be an easy DIY install project.
A garbage disposal is a motorized electronic device that is designed to grind up food fed from a sink drain and then expel that food through the drain plumbing, just as you would unwanted water.
The best garbage disposals can do this at higher rates of speed and can handle more dense food items in larger quantities.
How does a garbage disposal work?
Garbage disposals do this by chewing up food via a motorized shredder, that looks almost like a circular version of the front panel of a cheese grader. As it spins, it pulls food through the holes and shreds it against an impeller before it is then dropped into the drain chamber.
From the drain chamber the food - which is now essentially liquidized - can pass into the main sink drain and out through the plumbing system.
This allows you to dispose of food waste just like you would water waste.
It's a much cleaner and more efficient way to handle foot waste.
Other Helpful Resources
This covers the basics of how a garbage disposal works, though there are also some additional resources on this topic that you might find helpful.
Checkout Don Vandervort's article in HomeTips for a more in-depth look at the interior of garbage disposals and how the parts fit together.
I believe he is also the one who created this graphic:
Insinkerator also has a video that illustrates the inner-workings of your garbage disposal unit which uses a really cool computer-generated sequence:
Overall, the process if fairly simple. Though understanding it is helpful for those who might want to install their own or even buy one for a contractor to install.