WHY SHOULD BUSINESSES COMPOST ON SITE?
Organisations across the globe are continually searching for ways to make their business models more sustainable, improve their carbon footprint and demonstrate their genuine commitment to looking after our planet.
The on-site composting of food waste can help companies with all the above – allowing them to reap ethical, environmental, resource and financial benefits, all at the same time.
Did you know that every year across the globe 1,300,000,000 tonnes of food is lost or wasted?
Food waste’s annual carbon footprint is estimated at 3,300,000,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
From the food wasted in Europe alone, 200,000,000 people could be fed.
It’s a sad reality that around 1,400,000,000 hectares of land are used to grow food that’s lost or wasted.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING?
- It helps to divert tonnes of food waste away from landfill.
- It turns food waste into a valuable resource.
- It enables companies to close the waste management loop.
- It saves thousands of pounds in off-site disposal costs.
- It reduces global greenhouse gases.
- It decreases pollution levels – less trucks on the road means cleaner air.
- It creates a nutrient-rich resource which can be used in growing projects.
- It generates jobs – especially in city-wide food waste collection projects.
- It improves the structure and quality of soil – promoting healthy plant and produce growth.
- It makes the produce we grow more nutritious – meaning healthier, happier human beings!
- It omits the need to use more synthetic, chemical fertilisers.
- It eliminates our reliance upon using peat-based composts, which are damaging to the environment and peatland ecosystems.
WHY PUT COMPOST BACK IN THE GROUND?
It supports soil health, helping to reverse the effects of climate change.
THIS IS WHY ORGANISATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS THE WORLD OVER ARE USING ROCKET COMPOSTERS
To integrate food waste composting into their waste management strategies.
Here are some our most commonly asked questions…
This is one of the most common things we’re asked here at Tidy Planet, and the answer is no, they’re very different.
Dried food waste has the water evaporated out of it at a high heat, to reduce its moisture and weight by up to 90% resulting in an inert, stabilised powder, that can be used as a valuable fuel resource,
and not in the ground to grow produce.
That’s because as it hasn’t been through a complex biological transformation like compost, it’s missing in beneficial properties that aid moisture retention, soil structure, and microorganisms that benefit
the ground and help plant growth.
As a result, the composting process takes up to 14 days, while dehydration only takes one.
Any process claiming to produce compost in 24 hours isn’t producing ‘compost’ at all.
Food waste drying is a great solution for firms which simply want to reduce their off-site disposal costs quickly and decrease the amount of food waste being landfilled and don’t want to produce a compost
resource on site. However, the drying process uses more energy than composting, so has a higher carbon footprint.
There’s a place at the commercial food waste management table for both composting and anaerobic digestion (AD), depending on the individual needs of businesses and communities.
Here at Tidy Planet, we belong to #TeamCompost, and here’s why…
10 reasons why we prefer composting over AD
Commercial composting can be implemented on a more localised on-site scale, providing jobs for communities and championing the power of societal collaboration.
Decentralised composting means elimination of transport but the possibility of collection by greener transport methods, such as bicycles, instead of relying on trucks, thus reducing carbon emissions!
Composting food waste builds soil carbon structure and improves its fertility. As a result, this supports greater food security and regenerative farming practices.
Composting treats food waste as a resource, not as ‘rubbish’ and this is vital for creating a truly circular economy.
AD doesn’t produce ‘renewable energy’ in the traditional sense like wind or solar. Instead food waste is converted into a methane-rich biogas and burned as a fuel producing carbon emissions, so this terminology is arguably misleading.
While the Waste Hierarchy states AD is better than landfill, so is everything else. Therefore, this shouldn’t be used as a selling point. All options should be considered in priority order, with prevention being the ultimate goal.
Decentralised composting helps to reduce feedstock contamination, as this is done on a smaller scale and by the human eye, rather than chopping and screening systems which can easily miss items, particularly plastics. This is of a major concern to the UK Environment Agency.
AD digestates are often promoted as alternative ‘green fertilisers’ for applying to land, but often contain lots of microplastics, which contaminate the land for generations to come.
The high nitrogen levels and lack of carbon or structure in digestate has the same negative effects as synthetic fertilisers, damaging the soil system, which leads to soil degradation and erosion and runs off into waterways.
Unlike AD, anyone can compost on site! All you need is space to house the commercial composting unit and a desire to harness food waste as a resource!
The verdict? Hands down, the carbon-footprint winner here is on-site composting!
Learn more about composting vs. anaerobic digestion
Yes, you can – but only under the right conditions…
As environmental awareness has grown, compostable packaging has had a surge in adoption and usage among both individuals and businesses alike.
The truth is that these sustainable, plant-based packaging alternatives are only better than their single-use counterparts if they are indeed composted, otherwise they’re simply a costlier route to landfill.
All compostable packaging is designed to break down naturally when composted, but it needs to be processed under the correct conditions – just like food or garden waste. Therefore, you need to ensure that your packaging is separated
from your general waste, and that you have a system in place which guarantees it goes to a certified composting facility, or you can do it yourself, on site!
Some packaging manufacturers have started to put collection and local composting measures in place for their products, all at a fee for the customer, but here at Tidy Planet we’re flying the flag all the way for on-site commercial composting solutions.
By having your own equipment on premises, not only can you close the loop and save on the costs and carbon emissions associated with third-party collections, but you can also create a valuable resource in the process.
MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING?
Head over to our FAQs page!
It supports soil regeneration, reversing the effects of climate change and it has both environmental and financial advantages for businesses.
In a word NO!
Composting requires the natural action of microbes to breakdown the complex chemical molecules in food waste. Any equipment producing compost in 24 hrs is a heating process removing the water and simply producing dried food waste. This shouldn’t be used as a soil improver or growth medium as you would compost. In the UK after drying food waste remains classified as waste.
But don’t take our word for it, see below regulatory guidance from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency on the subject
“Composting” is defined in the Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (WMLR), as– “the autothermic [i.e. self-heating] and thermophilic [i.e. 40-80°C] biological decomposition and stabilisationof biodegradable waste under controlled aerobic conditions that result in a stable sanitised material that can be applied to land for the benefit of agriculture, horticulture or ecological improvement”.
Processes that do not meet the definition of composting but treat food waste using heat, chemicals or biological agents to reduce the water content or volume, may be suitable for the pre-treatment of food waste prior to its separate collection and onward transport to an authorised treatment facility, e.g. an in- vessel composting (IVC) or an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility. However the residues from such processes remain waste, are not compost and are not suitable for application to land
THEY SAY SEEING IS BELIEVING…
See how brands across the world have been harnessing the resource potential of their food waste and generating compost.
Keen to know more about compost?
If you’re eager to grow your knowledge about composting and the benefits it can have for businesses and our planet, have a look at the following resources.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY…
“Prior to being able to compost on site, we always sent our food wastes for AD to be recovered. But with the Rocket Composter, we’re going one step higher up in the Waste Hierarchy and recycling them on site, allowing us to autonomously reduce our carbon footprint, as well as our expenditure on disposal trucks.”.
Fergal McCauley, Head of Facilities at City of Glasgow College