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Friday, 31 May 2013

Composting as a livelihood for your community? Towards ZERO waste society …. Are we realistic?

Waste out of control - or have we just lost faith?

There are positions for and against that we can hit a high level of recycling of 50% and sadly some recent events have revealed some very bad waste management practices that have crept along in the background quiet illegally.
Some issues of 'send it away and forget about it' which was originally a philosophy/living regard we had towards national landfill .... yet now some exchanges of fire have occurred as the waste has been claimed to be sent abroad and claimed as recycled when it was supposedly actually put to landfill.
Our habits have been ridiculous the last fifty years, we need to review our entire living standard and objectively ask ourselves do we really need to buy this, that and those. This is mainly all about demand and inevitable waste - which many feel they can do nothing about it - so merely continue to consume at an accelerated rate.
We have increased our recycling rates (or at least we have increased the rate which we put things into 'green' bins and not black bins) in theory we are doing the right thing - yet it is all really going where we believe (where we are told it is) it is?
Can we deal with waste in our immediate vicinity? Should we deal with our waste in our immediate vicinity? What incentives? could we recycle that waste into 'free' energy and heat? Who would be responsible for partaking or managing such initiatives?
Composting - more options than we know?
Composting at home still has some setbacks. Complaints from neighbours that someone who is putting food into an ‘open composter’ in the back yard still attracts rats and increases the pest problem – or worse attracts more domesticated cats who will be instinctively attracted to the rats.
People forget what exactly they can add to garden large compost bins (of 100 litres or considerably more). What can we do on the house (or office) front? How much waste can be channelled into the house hold land/garden area without impacting upon the neighbourhood?
Post: junk mail, bills and personal letters:
Many of us may be tempted to recycle those pesky flyers, or envelopes that come with all those bills, personal letters etc. Just by hand shredding the paper (long strips) into the house bin (allocated for home (non-food) composting). Newspaper may be of use here to tear up and add to the home composter.

In such a neurotic era of personal information and privacy – your precious details can be added to the home composting point.  It may be a good way to rid yourself of personal information safely. Instead of using electronic shredders, one may hand shred the paper and add it to your compost point where it will be gradually broken down.

Human waste:
No – not urine or faeces (although composting toilets are increasingly becoming more acceptable by many conventional families) yet human hair, nails and anything else that departs our outer shells may be of use to compost. Just mixing all those torn up envelopes, toilet paper that one blow’s their nose on along with hairs and nails will be a good source for your home composting.
Some scientist may argue that such a build-up of pathogens may potentially be a danger – yet mixed in with paper, cardboard, grass, bush cuttings and weeds – most potential threats can be minimised.
Micro-scale composting in Houses à Small scale Community Composting:
There is scope to begin a larger scale composting point if 100 houses in a street agree, as a co-operative, to merge all their composting at one site if they have finite land (or not gardens at all – perhaps a high rise establishment) yet wish to deal with their waste on the immediate geographical/spatial level.
Anaerobic Digestion – Waste from Energy:
This will be further explored in a later blog of Bio-economy – yet for now – please consider the more waste we can direct away from recycling and into composting may give some possibilities of co-energy-operatives with possible small to medium sized anaerobic digesters on localised street conditions may be one manner to provide additional latent heat for a local district scheme. Generation of electricity may be more complex and expensive to set up. What say you?
This may be a better option than creating anaerobic digesters that are fuelled by felled trees from another country (a real burden with transporting the fuel stock for 1000’s of kilometres).
Industrial food waste from Restaurants, food courts/establishments, prisons and other establishments is an area that still requires mass development to deal with our food stock waste and hopefully an avenue for localisation of composting processes being established.
Whether we like it or not – incineration stations with energy recovery (heat and electricity) are getting built everywhere across the globe. Many pressure groups, community groups and other concerned factions have lobbied hard to stop this from happening – sometimes successfully and sometimes not.
Fewer incinerators would be built if we had less of an output of waste – or a redirection of compostable food waste that can go to compost sites or anaerobic digestion machines.
We must all act … some have established excellent practices years ago – they are just not widespread enough. This blog presents no solutions – it merely asks everyone to ask what we have to do in our own local areas to deal with our waste streams.
We may really have a genuine chance of becoming a zero waste producing society.
What can you do?