You’ve probably not given much thought to what happens to all the stuff you put down your garbage disposal, so it might surprise you how much good that small appliance is actually doing.

In addition to ridding your home of smelly pieces of leftover meals, your garbage disposal is also helping keep that waste out of local landfills so it can be turned into fuel and fertilizer. Here’s how it works, thanks to our friends at Insinkerator:

After being ground up and sent down the pipe to the water treatment plant, micro-organisms clean the water by eating all the stuff that’s in it. Remnants of the animals’ digestive process include methane gas, which can converted into renewable energy used to power the water treatment plant. Customers save money because less money is required for electricity to run treatment equipment.

At the end of the water treatment process, any biosolids that remain are turned into fertilizer for agriculture and, in some cases, home gardening. This kind of all-natural compost is better for the environment because it eliminates the need for harsh chemical treatments that take an enormous amount of energy to make and have the potential to actually be dangerous for the environment.