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lets talk waste.

Waste is used to describe:
materials not needed after primary production:
the unwanted byproduct of a process:
Products no longer needed:
Objects that are now defunct:

Examples include municipal solid waste (household trash/refuse), hazardous waste, wastewater (such as sewage, which contains bodily wastes (feces and urine) and surface runoff), radioactive waste, and others.

Waste is often considered worthless but this is usually not the case. It very much depends on the type of waste. And the waste disposal system favoured.

Read about disposing of plastic here.

Disposing Of Biodegradable Waste

Composting accelerates the natural process of biodegrading or rotting down organic waste material into a rich soil or compost. Its a great and  sustainable way to deal with our waste.

As I’m sure you know biodegradable waste does not do well in the unnatural conditions of landfill. It bubbles away producing methane which adds to the greenhouse effect. Composting biodegradable waste on the other hand produces a nutrient rich material that can be used to grow more food.

How It Works

All natural (as oppose to synthetic) materials do eventually biodegrade or rot. Composting speeds up that process

Useful composting information

Biodegradable –Biodegradable products break down through a naturally occurring microorganism, such as fungi or bacteria over a period of time. More about biodegrading HERE
Compostable – To be classed compostable, items must biodegrade within a certain amount of time, the resulting biomass must be free of toxins, able to sustain plant life and be used as an organic fertilizer or soil additive.
Composting Standards For a man-made product to be legally sold as compostable, it has to meet rigorous composting standards

Where It Works

Composting can of course be done on a small scale and most people will be familiar with the concept of a backyard heap or garden compost where household waste is rotted down into garden mulch.
However large-scale schemes are becoming increasingly popular. In the UK communities band together to compost a whole street is worth of waste. Even city councils are getting in on the act.

Home Composting V Industrial Composting

Industrial composting are large scale schemes.
Home composting is a bin in your back yard.
The difference is is that industrial composting is a lot hotter and can work more quickly.
Therefore, while a product might be classed as both biodegradable and compostable, it might not break down in a backyard compost bin.

 

We could actually compost most of our waste… if it is the right sort!

What to Compost

If every bit of trash was compostable you could get out of that destructive relationship with your landfill bin. Everlasting litter would be a thing of the past. Councils could stop paying a fortune to landfill trash. Nutrients could be returned to the soil. So in addition to food waste we need to be composting other trash.

Disposables
Sometime you need a disposable and when you do it has to be compostable.  Here are biodegradable bags for the butcher, paper cups for the office party and plastic free tampons. To name but a few.

And, yes, apparently you can compost biodegradable tampons. No I’m not sure how I feel about that either!

Read about OUR DISPOSABLES HERE

Compostable Plastics
Compostable plastics come in various forms and are made in different ways. But if they are certified compostable the are biodegradable.

You can read all about compostable plastics here

Cornstarch PLA bags partially rotted in my bin.

Composting Plastic 
While most agree that some  plastics are indeed biodegradable and compostable, many say that they can only composted in large scale municipal schemes. As we don’t have many large scale municipal schemes this they say is a pointless advantage.I say the days of large scale municipal schemes is fast approaching as governments aim to divert biodegradable rubbish from landfill sites.
But I have been composting my  biodegradable plastic for years.  You can see what here 

So you are now hot to rot but which system to go with?

Composting At Home
Many  treat it as some kind of arcane science, but basically you pile your biological waste into a compost bin, keep it warm and it rots down naturally into a rich soil or compost.

Great Reasons to Compost  Waste
You can use a compost bin  for garden litter which saves on boring trips to the tip.
You can dispose of your own kitchen waste which it gobbles up by the bucket load.
You can keep biodegradable waste out of landfill and cut your carbon footprint.
Cuts our dependance on waste collection services by taking responsibility for our own waste.
Cut bin liners. No need  to wrap my mushy waste as it all goes straight in the compost bin. Read living without bin liners  for more information.

Which Bin For Your Home
A run down on the bins available to the back yard composter. Everything from the simple heap to a bin that never needs emptying, bins you can keep in the kitchen to wormeries. Read MORE HERE

But you haven’t got room for a bin. Think outside the box!
Case Study – Friends Who Compost. Get a mate with a bin Read more here.

Composting On A Larger Scale

Case Study – A Cafe
Cute Boscastle National Trust Cafe uses compostable disposables and “. we collect the cups, cup holders, plates and the untreated wooden cutlery that we use, and they are taken to a local farmer who shreds them. He then mixes them with his green waste and composts them into a peat free mulch substitute. This mulch is hen taken to the National Trust plant nurseries at Lanhydrock House near Bodmin, who grow, amongst all the other plant, the plants that are sold in the National Trust shop that adjoins the cafe in Boscastle. By doing it this way, we not only successfully recycle the disposables from the national Trust Cafe in Boscastle, but we contribute to saving the limited resources of peat bogs.”
Read more HERE

Community Composting

Community composting is where local community groups share the use and management of a common composting facility.
Key points
Community composting is where residents jointly share and manage a central composting facility.
Community composting allows people to compost food and garden waste who may otherwise struggle to do so.
Community composting has an added benefit of bringing the community together.
Guidance is available for overcoming practical difficulties which may arise.
Grant funding may be available to cover costs.
SourceWRAP

More help can be found at the UK community compost Organisation HERE

Municipal

The UK composting industry has experienced a period of strong growth, according to figures released today. The amount of waste composted in 2007/8 rose by nine per cent from the previous year and further growth is predicted in the annual WRAP and AFOR survey.
As demand for composted products continued to increase, the industry turned over   more than £165m in the year to April 2008. In total, 4.5 million tonnes of separately collected waste was composted in the UK in 2007/2008.
Read more here.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to increase composting of food scraps generated by the city’s eight million inhabitants. In a few years, separation of food waste from other refuse could be required of residents, the mayor said.
The administration says it will soon be looking to pay a local composting plant to process 100,000 tons of food scraps a year, or about 10 percent of the city’s residential food waste.Read more here.

How Councils Compost

How to compost on a large scale – read more HERE

Keeping Your Waste Sweet
Bokashi Bins are not strictly composting but pickling. This allows you to store compostable food waste for long periods of time. Read more HERE

The New Litter

Companies using compostable plastic.

Snact

Our new innovative packaging, developed by Israeli start-up TIPA, is just as durable and impermeable as ordinary plastic – but it biologically decomposes within just 180 days and becomes a fertiliser for soil, behaving similarly to an orange peel. Read more here.

Vegware
A while ago I got sent some Vegware stuff to review. Vegware make disposable, compostable packaging for the fast-food industry. Hooray for them …. but I am not in fast food. So what would I be using them for? For starters…

Eco For Life 
If you must drink bottled water this might interest you; water packaged in PLA compostable plastic bottles

More

Check out all our composting posts HERE
Want to know more about plastic? Read up here
See our big list of plastic types here

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