Last week I found myself in a conversation with an obvious sceptic. “Does it really make sense to drive a gas powered vehicle around to pick up compost? How is that reducing greenhouse gases?” I immediately knew the answers because I had done my research already, I didn’t want to spin my wheels trying to make a difference and actually end up doing MORE harm to the planet. My personal vehicle is a used electric car, and I will never again own a gas powered vehicle for personal use. But here is some information on why it DOES make sense to use a gas powered vehicle to pick up people’s compost.
- Whether we pick it up or the garbage truck does, it still ends up being driven somewhere. A ton of waste in a garbage truck vs 1/2 a ton in a garbage truck and 1/2 a ton in our compost van both have similar fuel needs. We optimize our route so that we aren’t wasting kilometers, and currently we only work in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, keep our route small and efficient. There is a slight net increase having an extra vehicle on the road, but you also have to think that those garbage trucks aren’t going to need to head to the dump as many times with less in the trash can, meaning shorter routes for them in the long run too.
- The biggest factor is what happens to the food waste and other compostable material after it leaves your house or business. Food waste and other “green waste” that is sent to the landfills is buried in layers, it does not have readily available oxygen and breaks down under anaerobic conditions. Under anaerobic conditions, food waste slowly rots, producing harmful gases such as ammonia, methane, sulfides and co2. The most harmful of these to us is the methane, which is 25 TIMES more impactful to our climate than co2. So for every cubic meter of methane we prevent, is equal to preventing 25cubic meters of co2! There is a great calculator that shows you the impacts of food waste here. It is Australian, but the calculator is telling! So when we compost our food waste, we mix it with woodchips and other organic materials and it gets regularly circulated so it is broken down by microbes in aerobic conditions that means with oxygen present) Under these conditions, there is little to no methane produced. The facility we take our compost to in Chilliwack uses a couple of different composting methods and even uses worms to process some of the compost. The result is carbon sequestration and amazingly fertile worm castings. This brings us to our final point.
- When food waste goes to the landfill, those resources are just gone. There are a few cities that recapture the gases produced in landfills for energy Hey (Kelowna, way to go!), but for the most part the nutrient dense food waste ends up rotting in a landfill creating harmful greenhouse gases. When we compost food waste using vermiculture or anaerobic composting practices, not only do we prevent these harmful greenhouse gases, but we also create a nutrient rich product that your veggie or flower garden will love! Worm castings are black gold for your garden! Nutrient dense and filled with healthy bacteria for optimal growing conditions.