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Why Organic Waste Recycling is Essential for a Sustainable Future

When discussing organic waste it is important to be aware of what it is. It is easy to assume but assumptions are often incorrect leading to false ideas and hypothesis.

Organic waste is best described as any material that is biodegradable and originates from plants or animals. It is found in:

  1. Municipal Solid Waste – this includes waste generated by households, schools and businesses consisting of foodwaste and other natural materials.
  2. Industrial Solid Waste – this is organic waste produced as an industrial by-product e.g., food processing waste, wood scraps and agricultural residues.
  3. Agricultural Waste – farmers produce organic waste from crop residues, manure, silage and other agricultural activities.
  4. Wastewaters – organic waste can be present in wastewater treatment plants including organic matter from sewage.

When organic waste decomposes it can breakdown into components such as ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide. All extremely harmful to the environment and contributing substantially to greenhouse gases and climate change. Therefore, proper management is essential to minimise the environmental impact and promote sustainable practices ensuring that natural resources are not depleted.

Successful waste management programs not only benefit society and the environment but is also an additional revenue source. These benefits include:

  1. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Correct organic waste treatment helps prevent the release of harmful greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide.
  2. Soil enrichment and fertilisation. Organic waste can be transformed into a nutrient rich fertilser enhancing soil quality and improving soil structure.
  3. Waste diversion from landfill. Landfill sites contribute to pollution, emits greenhouse gases and takes up valuable land space.
  4. Resource recovery. Effective organic waste management produces power, electricity and biogas which can be used as a fuel source.
  5. Cost savings. Costs of disposing of waste are saved, e.g., transportation costs of delivering to landfill sites. By utilising electricity produced by a successful waste management scheme can reduce electricity costs.
  6. Circular economy. With emphasis on recycling, reusing and minimising waste generation organic waste management aligns with the principles of a circular economy.
  7. Community engagement and education. Successful schemes involve communities, raising awareness concerning waste reduction and sustainable practices. Education programs encourage responsible waste disposal.

Revenue from organic waste is achieved by transforming organic waste into organic fertilizer. This is of particular use to farmers who have considerable waste disposal problems regarding manure and silage. They can spread it on land without restriction, thus saving costs of purchasing expensive chemical fertilizers. In addition, any excess can be sold. Thus, at a stroke, they solve disposal problems whilst producing income.

There are many advantages of organic fertilizers which include:

  1. Environmentally Friendly: Organic fertilizers reduce gradually, providing sustained nourishment to plants.
  2. Slow Release: They release nutrients gradually, providing sustained nourishment to plants.
  3. Improves Soil Structure: Organic matter improves soil structure, water retention, and aeration.
  4. Promotes Beneficial Microbes: Organic fertilizers support beneficial soil microorganisms.

While chemical fertilizers have their advantages, they also come with several drawbacks such as:

  1. Environmental Pollution: Chemical fertilizers can contribute to water pollution and soil degradation through nutrient runoff. When it rains, excess fertilizers may be washed into canals and lakes, leading to nutrient imbalances and harmful algal blooms. 
  2. Soil Decline: Continuous use of chemical fertilizers without proper soil management can result in soil degradation. Imbalanced nutrient application can alter soil pH, increase pests’ attacks, cause acidification, and lead to soil crust formation. These factors can decrease soil organic carbon, reduce beneficial organisms, and ultimately stunt plant growth and yield.
  3. Non-Renewable Resource Dependence: Many chemical fertilizers are derived from non-renewable resources, Overreliance on these resources can have long-term implications for sustainability and environmental balance.
  4. Loss of Biodiversity: Intensive chemical fertilizer use can disrupt natural ecosystems, affecting biodiversity. By relying solely on synthetic nutrients, we may inadvertently harm various plant and animal species that rely on diverse soil conditions.
  5. Health Concerns: Chemical fertilizers contain potentially harmful substances. While they provide short-term benefits in terms of crop yield, their long-term impact on soil health and human health is a cause for concern. Exposure to chemical residues can affect both the environment and human well-being.

In summary, while chemical fertilizers offer immediate results, their long-term effects on soil quality, water systems, and overall ecosystem health warrant careful consideration. Balancing their use with sustainable practices is essential for maintaining a healthy environment and productive agriculture. 

Organicco over the last few years have developed various systems that will convert organic waste into organic fertiliser providing opportunities for successful waste management schemes whilst at the same time developing revenue streams and cost cutting opportunities. At the same time organic waste will be dealt with in an environmental and sustainable manner benefitting us all and helping eliminate the harmful consequences of chemical fertilisers. Detailed information can be found on its web site.

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