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On the ISS (International Space Station), astronauts recycle some of their waste — only the kind they can yield water from. However, on the first Enterprise, this was clearly not the case. They jettisoned it directly into space.

In Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, however, this changes. At Starfleet Headquarters of the 32nd century, Osyraa (leader of the Emerald Chain) attempts to negotiate with Admiral Vance after she infiltrates HQ. As she speaks, she snacks on some delicious apple slices (among other things), until Admiral Vance tells her "It's made of our shit, you know" (referring to the food). She quickly spits out her scrumptious apple slice and gives him a look.

Between Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: Discovery (when it traveled to the 32nd century), Starfleet had replicator rations. However, I'm not sure whether we were ever told where these replicator rations come from. At any rate, Star Trek: Discovery makes it clear that at that point, waste matter is recycled and used for replication. This would make sense as it would reduce the need to outsource matter.

When does this change happen?

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  • The entry you link to does not say waste was jettisoned, so I don't know where you're getting that from. Nov 6, 2022 at 1:33
  • My apologies--that was the wrong link. This is the correct one: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/140569/… Nov 6, 2022 at 3:39
  • I will also edit the question to replace the incorrect link with the correct one. Nov 6, 2022 at 3:39
  • Ah. Star Trek V. The one that everyone prefers not exist. In any case, this is one of those scenes that should be quietly retconned because the only reason that signage was there had nothing to do with in-universe reasons (as seen below, it's established recycling was present in Starfleet from its earliest days) and everything to do with being unable to specifically indicate it was a toilet because of outdated film codes. Also, somewhat funny as a joke. Nov 7, 2022 at 15:49

1 Answer 1

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The earliest I'm aware of Starfleet recycling waste is on the NX class vessels seen in Enterprise. From the season one episode Breaking the Ice, Tucker explains how human waste is managed on a starship.

ARCHER: Thanks, Hoshi. Here's one from Molly McCook. 'When you flush the toilet, where does it go?' That sounds like an engineering question, so we'll ask Commander Charles Tucker, our Chief Engineer. Trip.
TUCKER: Pause it, will you?
(Hoshi does.)
TUCKER: A poop question, sir? Can't I talk about the warp reactor or the transporter?
ARCHER: It's a perfectly valid question.
(Tucker nods at Hoshi to resume recording.)
TUCKER: The first thing you've got to understand is we recycle pretty much everything on a starship. That includes waste, and the first thing that happens to the waste is it gets processed through a machine called a bio-matter resequencer. Then it gets broken down into. Hold on.
(Hoshi pauses recording.)
TUCKER: They're going to think I'm the sanitation engineer.
ARCHER: You're doing fine.
(The recording is resumed.)
TUCKER: So the waste is broken down into little molecules and then they get transformed into any number of things we can use on the ship. Cargo containers, insulation, boots, you name it.
Chakoteya.net

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  • Hmm. So was this happening all throughout TNG and VOY too? Nov 5, 2022 at 14:29
  • @SovereignInquiry To my knowledge it doesn't specifically come up in those shows, but I don't see any reason to assume that waste isn't handled in a similar manner.
    – Xantec
    Nov 5, 2022 at 22:05
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    @DannyMcG I may be full of crap at times.
    – Xantec
    Nov 5, 2022 at 22:06

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