Disposal of organic waste materials from the meat- and vegetable-processing industries historically has been undertaken by dumping, drying followed by combustion, or biological oxidation. As a result of higher intensity processing rates and increasingly stringent legislation, these are no longer economical. Hydrothermal oxidation, also referred to as "wet" oxidation, has been used to lower the chemical and biological oxygen demand of waste samples from the above two industries. The starch-based wastes were readily oxidized without a catalyst. For the lipid and protein-based wastes, the use of copper calcium silicate and nitrate catalysts provided a significant reduction in oxygen demand at 230 degrees C.