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Composting: A trend to fight climate change
30 Nov 2018Nationals
  • In Chile, a person generates 1.25 kilos of garbage daily and approximately 50% corresponds to organic waste that ends up in landfills.
  • Sustainably managing organic waste allows mitigating the negative impacts of Climate Change, the main objective of the National Organic Recycling Program.

The phenomenon of Climate Change is a problem worldwide. Therefore, several countries have committed to reduce their Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions through the recognized Paris Agreement. Under this framework, and in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment of Chile and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, the Organic Recycling Program was born.

The objective of this initiative is to incorporate organic recycling throughout Chile, through the implementation of anaerobic composting plants or biodigesters in different districts of the country. In addition, it seeks to raise awareness in the community about the positive impact that sustainable waste management generates in the environment, especially when half of the waste generated in homes corresponds to organic waste.

“Most people do not measure what it means to throw away waste fruit or vegetables, because they assume that they decompose naturally, however, the process of anaerobic degradation in landfills produces the emission of Greenhouse Gases, highly polluting to the environment. According to the last National Inventory of GHG Emissions, in Chile, 3.23 million tons of CO2 equivalent are emitted as a result of municipal solid waste disposal. If 38% of the national population separated their organics to manage them through composting, for example, it would be possible to reduce these emissions by 30% by 2030, “explains the Coordinator of the Organic Recycling Program, Gerardo Canales.

According to the World Bank Report “What a waste 2.0” (World Bank Report “What a Waste 2.0”, 2018), worldwide, only 5.5% of waste is composted – and in Chile only 0.4% – On the other hand, the Food Wastage Footprint report: Impacts on Natural Resources (2013) states that domestic composting can potentially recover up to 150 kg of food waste per household per year.

There is no doubt, it was time to compost.

What is composting?

Composting is a process of transformation of organic matter to obtain compost, a natural fertilizer. This practice acquires great importance considering that the daily trash generated in homes contains 50% organic matter.

When recycling organic waste, it contributes to the reduction of wastes destined to sanitary landfills, thus mitigating Climate Change. And although some are just becoming familiar with the concept, in Chile different initiatives and protagonists stand out in Social Networks that promote this habit in their homes.

“To take care of our organic waste, is to handle 50% of our garbage. Since January I manage this type of waste in my house by means of a vermicomposter and although I am not an expert in the matter and I have had some missteps, it has worked quite well. I am convinced that with desire and a little effort it is always possible “, says the Designer and creator of the @nomedalomismo account, Camila Silva.

Alejandra Kopaitic and Agustín Orozco, leaders of @vayaconsumismo, comment that “being responsible for the waste we generate is key, not only to reduce our waste, but also to fight from our homes to Climate Change”.

In view that not all people have the possibility to allocate time and space in their homes for the practice of home composting, ventures have emerged that perform this service. The NAMUNTU Composting and Vermiculture Club has a system that works on the basis of hermetic buckets with a capacity of four litres to dispose of the organics, such as the remains of fruits, vegetables, eggshells, among others. Through a membership, customers have a weekly withdrawal of the bucket, which prevents the trash reaches the point of decomposition. That container is washed and returned to the houses to repeat the process.

Under the motto We return the earth to the planet, the Architect Álvaro Pineda, founded in February of this year Mr. Compost, a bicycle service of organic waste removal, “today we are present in seven communes of Santiago, withdrawing every two weeks 7 thousand litres of waste “.

Nothing is lost, everything transforms

The generation of waste is one of the most important environmental concerns of today’s society, in this context, living under the Zero Waste culture, is an invitation to tackle the problem of waste in an integral and systemic way, at least as much as Postulates the executive director of the Garbage Foundation, Macarena Guajardo.

“It is fundamental to produce a change in the way waste is understood. Abandon the belief that they are something negative, but that they are resources and materials that can be used in new processes. That’s why our motto is Garbage does not exist because it is a product of the limit of our imagination, “Macarena says.

Beyond domestic composting, there are pioneering initiatives in the country such as Reciclajes Industriales S.A, a company dedicated to the management and recycling of organic agro-industrial waste since 1982, avoiding its disposal in landfills. They annually recycle 120,000 tons of organic waste, from which they obtain between 15,000 to 20,000 tons of compost per year.

“Undoubtedly, the interest in composting in Chile has been increasing. An important part of our mission as a company is to leave the planet better than how we receive it, returning to the environment the waste transformed into products through sustainable technological solutions. For that, recycling and the circular economy are key “, says the Manager of Development and Business of Industrial Recycling S.A., Leonardo Curotto.

Municipal commitments

At present, the Circular Economy Office belonging to the Waste Management Area of the Ministry of the Environment, does not have public policy instruments regarding the management of municipal organic waste. Therefore, during 2019 they intend to develop a study aimed at collecting and analyzing information on their management at a national and international level. “The goal is to have the necessary background to design and implement a medium and long-term strategy that allows us to increase its value. We have defined that 2019 will be the year of the organics, “says the Manager of the Waste Management Area Ministry of the Environment, Pablo Fernandois.

That challenge acquires great importance considering that, according to the information available in the MMA (http://sinia.mma.gob.cl/estado-del-medio-ambiente/), the year 2016 generated about 7.7 million tons of municipal waste. “Of that total, approximately 3.7 million tons correspond to organic, therefore, in 2019 we hope to have a road map that shows us how to move forward to catch up with the developed countries in this area,” concluded Fernandois.

The Reciclo Orgánicos Program is designed to reduce the amount of organic waste discarded in landfills through the optimization of waste management processes at the municipal level that will result in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

“We have identified opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the capture of gas in landfills and the separate treatment of organic matter through composting or anaerobic digestion, resulting in the conversion of waste. organic in clean energy and natural fertilizer, “says the Coordinator of Reciclo Orgánicos, Gerardo Canales.

Currently, the Program is supporting with equipment and technical assistance the municipalities of Santa Juana, Talcahuano and Talca, and will also collaborate with the municipalities in the involvement of the community as a key aspect for the success of this initiative.

More information at www.reciclorganicos.com and @reciclorganicos

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