Why Organic Waste Recycling Is Important

Many people don’t think about it, but every day we produce a lot of garbage that is no longer useful to us.  Some of this garbage consists of things like food scraps and yard clippings; these are called organic wastes.  These products would normally be thrown away and end up in landfills where they can produce methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.

Recycling organic waste not only benefits the environment but also benefits your community at large.  There are many steps in recycling organic wastes and some ways you can get involved in their recycling. But what exactly is organic waste? Organic wastes are any products that came from plants or animals.  Fruits and vegetables, animal manure, grass clippings, hays, straws, even the skins of fruits are organic wastes.

Organic waste recycling benefits you personally because it makes your community cleaner by reducing the amount of solid waste that pollutes the air and water.  These recyclable materials can be turned into useful products like compost to improve soil quality.  Some of the many benefits of properly recycling organic waste are listed below.

Organic Waste Recycling Benefits

Reduces methane emissions that can pollute the air and water.  Methane is a by-product of organic waste decomposition, which happens in landfills.  The more organic wastes are reduced, the less methane can be produced.

Promotes a sustainable environment for future generations.  When you recycle organic wastes there is less garbage to burn or bury, so this reduces pollution and preserves natural resources like trees, water, and soil.

Increases your community’s self-reliance.  Organic wastes can be turned into compost which, in turn, provides nutrients to the soil.

Creates jobs and income for your community.  The more materials that are recycled, the more jobs will be created to process these raw materials. Organic waste recycling is a beneficial way for your community to reduce environmental pollution, save natural resources, and be more self-reliant.

Now that you know the benefits of recycling organic wastes, it is easy to see why this is an important part of preserving our environment.  The best way to get involved in organic waste recycling is by starting at home.

Many communities offer curbside composting where you can set out your food scraps and yard clippings every week to be picked up for organic waste recycling.  This is a simple way to get involved in this worthwhile project. If you are not part of a community that offers curbside composting, try contacting your city or county government to see if they have any drop-off locations.

Another option is to start a compost pile in your own backyard.  There are many resources online that can answer any questions you may have about organic waste recycling.

Reducing the impact of waste food by feeding the soil

Composting is the fifth component in the USDA’s nutrition hierarchy. As of September 20 2018 Americans recovered more than 50 million tons of MSW from waste. It is estimated that the food composting curbside recycling program has served 6.1 million households.

Compostering these solid waste causes a product that allows improvement in soils grow new cropland improve water flow and improve soil quality. The EPA says over 2.6 million tonnes were composted in 2018. In 2019 the majority of food waste were recycled in the USA.

Composting at home is

a great way to reduce the amount of solid waste sent to landfills, save money on fertilizers, and help your garden grow. It is an easy task that doesn’t require much work at all. You can purchase or build compost bins in any size you want for your particular needs.

Home composting involves putting food scraps into the bin and covering it with a soil or compost mixture.  You can add grass clippings to the mix, too, which will help the pile decompose faster. You should turn your food scraps into soil about once a month, but you don’t have to get involved if you don’t want to.

Next time you are preparing a meal, try to think about how you could compost what you are going to throw away.  You can save all of your scraps and put them in an outdoor compost bin or pile. Once you see your garden healthy and green after using the composted soil there is no going back!

Organics Recycling Program

Organics Recycling Program (ORP) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s voluntary program for businesses that started in 1997

What are organics?  Food or food scraps, paper towels used to clean up after meals, napkins, coffee filters, etc. The reason people would compost is because it can keep our environment clean.  When we compost it can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, save natural resources like trees, water and soil. It also reduces the amount of waste that needs to be disposed in our landfill or burned.

There are more than 1,100 businesses participating in this program nation-wide with over 24 million pounds recycled back into the soil.

Since 1997 ORP has:

9.9 million pounds of de-manufactured wood and paper products (hard to recycle items like pizza boxes, paper plates and cups) were recycled back into the soil.  The United States produces 12 million tons of de-manufactured wood every year.  This is good because it reduces methane and greenhouse gas emissions.

1.3 million pounds of food waste were recycled back into the soil through composting.  Food scraps make up about 14% of what we throw away in MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) every year, that’s 13 million tons!

Every day Americans produce 3,000 tons of food waste that is sent to the landfill.  This is bad because it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Methane also contributes to depletion of the ozone layer and acid rain which causes extreme weather conditions.

Every ton of food scraps recycled can reduce greenhouse gases by 1,000 pounds!

Between the schools and universities, government agencies and businesses – we can make a difference.  This is something everyone should participate in and care about regardless of how small or big the contribution is to us as individuals.

A U.S Department of agriculture study suggests that Americans could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18% if all organic waste was fully composted.

Composting recycles organic waste like food scraps and yard clippings into nutrient rich soil that you can use in your garden.  When you put these items into an outdoor compost pile or bin they break down completely naturally without any work on your part.  Your vegetables, flowers, houseplants will benefit greatly from using this composted soil.

Composting is the natural process of breaking down organic material into nutrient rich soil by microorganisms.

When you throw away food scraps and yard clippings in landfills, these items break down anaerobically (without oxygen).  This produces methane gas which contributes to greenhouse gases and ozone depletion.

What is organic waste?

Organic waste is any paper towel used to clean up after meals, napkins, food scraps, yard clippings etc.

Facts about organic waste:

  • Americans throw away 25% of the food they purchase (approx.) 26 million tons
  • Food scraps make up 14% of all MSW (Municipal Solid Waste)
  • Americans throw away 4.5 million tons of yard clippings every year
  • Lawns account for 40% of all waste that goes into landfills

How does recycling organic waste help the environment?

Organic recycling is important because it helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions, save natural resources like trees and soil. It also reduces the amount of waste that needs to be disposed in our landfill or burned.

It is important because:

  • EPA estimates that recycling just organic waste would reduce green house gas emissions by 2%

Organic Waste composting recycles food scraps and yard clippings into nutrient rich soil that can be used in gardens and planters.  When you compost food scraps and yard clippings in an outdoor setting it breaks down completely naturally without any work on your part.

Recycling organic waste also reduces methane gas emissions which contributes to ozone depletion and extreme weather conditions like flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes.  Organic recycling is important because it reduces carbon dioxide emissions, saves natural resources like trees and soil.

Recycling organic waste helps the environment by saving landfill space which in turn reduces greenhouse gases that are emitted from landfills.

Facts about methane gas-

  • Methane gas contributes to ozone depletion and extreme weather conditions such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.
  • Landfills are the third largest contributor of methane gas in the US behind only cows and landfills.

Organic recycling helps reduce landfill use which in turn reduces greenhouse gases that are emitted from landfills.  Recycling organic waste also reduces methane gas emissions which contribute to ozone depletion and extreme weather conditions like flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Organic waste recycling is important because it reduces carbon dioxide emissions, saves natural resources like trees and soil.  It also reduces the amount of waste that needs to be disposed in our landfill or burned.   Food scraps make up 14% of all MSW (Municipal Solid Waste).  Americans throw away 4.5 million tons of yard clippings every year.  Lawns account for 40% of all waste that goes into landfills.

Organic waste recycling is important because it helps reduce greenhouse gases, save natural resources, reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed and saves landfill space.

What is compost?

Compost is a mixture of decomposed organic materials. The natural process is a complete decomposition of all material in the compost heap, but the speed is so slow that often weeks to months are required for significant results to be achieved. In order to accelerate this process and save space, many producers include already processed organic matter in their compost heap. In order to produce natural fertilizer, one should process their organic waste in a compost heap where it is left to decompose naturally. However, there are many other ways to produce processed organic matter including : aerobic digestion , worms , activated sludge treatment and anaerobic digestion . Each of these methods will be described briefly below.

Organic waste recycling – Aerobic Digestion

Aerobic digestion is a biological process that takes place with the help of microorganisms. It primarily breaks down organic matter into simple, stable substances by using oxygen present in the air. This technique is usually used for treating sewage sludge and wastewater treatment plant sludge . The end products are : methane , carbon dioxide , water vapour, biomass , ammonium and soluble inorganic salts.

Aerobic digestion  is a closed system that consists of four basic parts: 1) feeding or feedstock preparation, 2) mixing or agitation, 3) enclosed anaerobic conditions (required for stabilization), 4) liquid removal . The process starts with the feedstock preparation which is achieved by adding water to the dry material. The mixing or agitation allows oxygen to be absorbed by the feedstock . Then, organic matter must remain in enclosed condition for at least 12 days so that microorganisms have enough time to proliferate. Finally, the liquid is removed from the mixture that can then be used as fertilizers or soil conditioners while the solids can be used as a fuel.

Organic waste recycling – Worms

Worms are nature’s great recyclers and they play a critical role in breaking down organic matter to help make topsoil for our farms and gardens. Earthworms eat their way through soil , ingesting organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings and other decaying plant matter, and leaving behind nutrient-rich castings (i.e.: worm droppings). The organic materials are broken down by enzymes in the worm’s digestive system. There is an average of about 100 earthworms per cubic foot of soil .

Organic waste recycling – Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen to produce methane, carbon dioxide and biomass. The end products are : methane , carbon dioxide , water vapour, biomass . Organic waste recycling after anaerobic digestion is done by aerobic digestion where microorganisms decompose organic materials using oxygen present in the air.

Anaerobic digestion is a controlled process. It takes place in a closed vessel, called digester where organic material is fed into the system under exclusion of oxygen . In order to produce methane, microorganisms break down biodegradable material and nutrients are released as gas bubbles. Then, those gases are collected from either slurry or water .

Organic waste recycling – Activated Sludge Treatment

Activated sludge treatment is an aerobic biological process that removes pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewater. The end products are : water , biomass . The already processed organic matter is added to aeration tank where the microorganisms settle to the bottom of the tank as a thin layer of sludge. The water is periodically drawn off the top of the tank and then returned to the vessel after having passed through a screen to remove large particles.

After wastewater passes over the biomass in the bottom of the vessel, it enters one or more clarifiers where solids are removed from suspension by allowing them to settle out under gravity . The resulting effluent is clear water . Finally, the sludge that has been removed from the clarifiers is returned to the aeration tank. Activated sludge treatment removes organic matter from wastewater , which, in turn, reduces the BOD (biological oxygen demand).

The article briefly talks about how aerobic digestion, anaerobic digestion and activated sludge treatment processes work and what are their end products.

Sources

Organic Waste
EPA-Methane gas contributes to greenhouse gases and ozone depletion
Food scraps make up 14% of all MSW
America’s food waste problem
Americans throw away 4.5 million tons of yard clippings every year

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