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Letting organic material got to waste

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Posted: 1:52PM September 8th, 2014 | Comments

Submitted By Madelene Casselbrant

A hot topic in Madison the last two weeks has been City of Madison’s household organics pilot program; a pilot ongoing since June 2011. Households and a handful of businesses have gotten their organic waste picked up weekly and transported to Oshkosh’s anaerobic digester. The vision for the project was to expand the service to include more households and that Madison in 2015 would initiate the construction of their own digester. However, the cancellation of the program was announced in the beginning of last week. At the preset Madison does not have a large-scale alternative for collection of organic waste.

According to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in 2012, 40 % of the food in the US goes to waste. In Sweden approximately every third grocery bag is thrown away. That such large quantities are thrown away is not sustainable. Yet, the food that is discarded can be recycled as nutrients, instead of ending up on a garbage dump with the rest of the trash. By sorting out organic waste, land space can be saved. In the City of Madison’s Sustainability plan there is a goal to “prevent solid waste to enter landfill”, a goal that includes that 75 % of all waste to landfill should be diverted by 2020. The Swedish Government has set a similar goal. By 2018, 50 % of the Swedish organic products should be separately sorted from other garbage.

In 2012, 60 % of all Swedish municipalities had programs to sort out organic waste. Täby, the municipality I grew up in, provides at present the possibility for large-scale kitchens and households to be a part of a compost pick-up program. By April next year it will be optional for individual households to get their food waste collected. In Uppsala, my student town, this is already a possibility. Täby distributes specific waxed bags for the compost, while in Uppsala compost can be contained in plastic bags, because the plastic is sorted out at a later stage in the process. The collected food waste from both Uppsala and Täby goes to the digester in Uppsala. The biogas from the plant provides fuel to close to half of the city’s inner-town busses.

Even though the pilot program has been cancelled, hopefully another solution can be found so that Madison can fulfill it self-determined goal. Meanwhile, no household in Madison, Uppsala or Täby, needs a digester to reduce the amount of food waste it produces. City of Madison provides advices on how to “Loose a pound [of waste] a week”.

 

 

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