Composting

Composting is an important part of waste reduction. According to a post on One Green Planet, there are a number of reasons why composting is the greenest thing you can do. Three to highlight include:

  1. Composting reduces landfill waste and incineration, and therefore emissions. Food waste lies stagnant in landfill sites where the vital oxygen that is needed to facilitate the decaying process cannot reach it. Landfill material also releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change: methane gas escapes during the building process. 
  2. Composting is good for the land. Composting is the active breakdown of foods and other materials through an organic process. The ‘waste’ matter becomes as rich as the nutrients you put into it, and compost made from a variety of ‘waste’ materials usually harbors vital micro-nutrients. You can test this theory by conducting the following experiment. Pot one plant into garden soil and another plant into garden soil mixed with compost. The outcome? The plant in the partial-compost will grow visibly larger than the purely soil-based one.
  3. Composting helps you embrace the natural cycle of life and decay. Environmentalism is at times heavily focused on the idea of ‘waste,’ because it is such a key issue to the health of the planet. However, ‘waste’ is a human concept and also a human problem. In nature there is no waste, as every living thing serves a greater purpose than its own lifespan, and contributes to the growth of something else. It’s easy to forget this crucial fact, but when you delve into composting your own ‘waste’ you learn to appreciate the cycle of life which involves decay and new growth in equal measure, and you come to understand that everything has a place in the world.

The US Environmental Protection Agency provides excellent information about the sustainable management of food and their Food Loss & Waste 2030 Reduction goal. They also provide an excellent guide for composting at home.

Composting Contamination Group

The Organics Contamination Reduction Workgroup (OCRW) was formed in May 2015 to help reduce contamination in municipal residential and commercial organics feedstocks delivered to local processors while concurrently expanding end products and markets for finished compost.  Comprised of a wide array of over 90 stakeholders from municipal, county, and state government; processors; packaging manufacturers; environmental consultants; waste and recycling haulers; advocacy groups; private business and industry; and interested residents, the real work of the OCRW was accomplished within four interrelated subcommittees:  Contractual Policies, Participant Education and Outreach, Upstream Systems & Organics Processing.

The Washington State Organics Contamination Workgroup Report and Toolkit report is a culmination of two years of genuine collaboration among those stakeholders across the State participating in one or more subcommittees.  The content of the report is a direct reflection of the extraordinary level of dedication, expertise, and contributions of participants.  But the work of the OCRW is not done, and this report and its recommendations merely serve as a jumping off point for the ongoing and important conversation surrounding organics contamination that must continue until organics contamination is substantially eliminated in our residential and commercial feedstocks.

If you’re not already involved in the OCRW, we encourage you to join and participate in the group to help us develop the next phase of this project. 

The OCRW is now a sub-committee of WORC.  If you’re interested in participating in the workgroup or joining the email list, please contact Edward Wheeler or by phone at 360.629.2933 - ext. 1006.

As a side note, WSRA is pleased that the OCRW was born from a 2015 WSRA conference breakout session!