Kitchen Waste Composting: A Step toward Sustainability
In this 21st century, Global warming has been a major issue around the world. Greenhouse gases like methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, etc. are responsible for it, produced majorly through burning fossils fuels, deforestation, anaerobically decomposition of wastage, and by industries. For the motto of somehow reducing the ongoing situation by 2030, United Nations has come front with Sustainable Goal 13 presenting climate change agendas. Every nation is working for finding the best alternative solution but the individual who is also responsible for the emission of GHGs from their kitchen waste is unknown. Over 51 percent of the trash that goes to landfills (including food scraps, paper, yard trimmings, and wood) is compostable. Unfortunately, by throwing food in the trash, we’re not only wasting valuable resources, but we’re also inadvertently contributing to climate change. On average Kathmandu municipal solid waste generation rate was 523.8 metric tons per day among which 71% are organic wastes. These wastage are not managed properly and anaerobically decomposed in dumping sites and landfills, produces methane which is 100 times more potent at trapping energy than carbon dioxide and have 21% more warming potential. So if this process continues, the increasing GHGs emission will cause further warming and long-lasting change in the component of the climate system increasing the livelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people & the ecosystem which automatically results in disturbance in sustainability.
Problems due to unmanaged Kitchen Waste:
- GHGs emission due to anaerobically decomposition of waste in landfills and dumping sites adds to global warming and climate change.
- Pollutes the environment as it releases an unpleasant odor.
- It generates leachate and landfill gases that require further mitigation measures.
So, how can we address this problem? What may be the role of every individual in GHGs reduction?
Well, rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, lack of public awareness, and poor management by municipalities have intensified environmental problems in towns in Nepal, including unsanitary waste management and disposal. So, the best step from individual-level living in urban areas to manage kitchen wastage is composting. Besides the time and area limitation, composting can be done easily in the compost bin.
Composting is an aerobic process that prevents methane production. For composting, bins made of either plastic, wood, or metal are selected. The major reason for GHGs emission in unmanaged dumping and landfills is due to anaerobic decomposition of wastage so to prevent these, numerous holes are made on the bins to ensure proper aeration. The bins are then filled with well chopped small vegetable and fruits scraps, eggshells, paper egg cartons, tea bags, shredded paper, paper napkins, sawdust, wood ash, paper bags, Newspaper, corn husk, wood ash, and any waste foods except bones, meat scraps which cannot be easily decomposable. During the filling, one-third portion should be nitrogen-rich matters (greens) and a two-thirds portion should be carbon-rich matters (browns). The bulkiness of the brown materials allows oxygen to penetrate, nourish the organisms that reside there & prevent the unpleasant odor. So if the content remains wet and smelly, browns are added. Once a week, the bins are shaken to ensure proper aeration and sprayed with water if the content remains dry. Then, the compost will be ready in 2-3 months depending on the temperature and types of content used. In case if there is a lack of browns then red wigglers earthworms are also used to decompose and prevent the odor from matters.
So, what may be the benefits of Kitchen Waste composting?
Focusing on benefits, methane production can be prevented as one-third portion of GHGs emission is through food waste, kitchen waste as a trash can be converted into treasure i.e. compost rich in nutrient and capable of moisture restoration in soil. Compost is environment-friendly. It can be a valuable supplement in rooftop agriculture in urban areas and reduces the use of chemical fertilizers. Overall by composting, we can put wasted food to good use, mitigate climate change and support the creation of arable soil.
As it seems a small step but it impacts a huge in the sustainability of soil & human health as well as our heavenly Earth. So, the government should also be aware of this and should come forward with the proper strategies and plans for implementing composting at local levels.