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For as long as I have known, we have always segregated our wastes. Organic waste goes into one bin, and inorganic waste goes into another. And while anyone can guess that it is due to its decomposing properties, much more goes into the classification of organic wastes and inorganic wastes. One of the major reasons why classification is so important is because the recycling processes of organic and inorganic wastes differ. Here's how.
Understanding organic waste:
Organic waste is anything biodegradable - meaning it can be broken down by microorganisms. This also includes food waste, garden waste, and even animal manure. In short, if it was once living and breathing, it probably goes into the organic waste bin. Around the United States, the organic waste bin is usually green.
Inorganic waste, on the other hand, is an item that microorganisms cannot break down. This includes plastics, metals, glass, and ceramics. In short, if it can't rot, it goes into the inorganic waste bin. Around the United States, the inorganic waste bin is usually blue.
The recycling process:
Organic recycling is the process of breaking down organic wastes so that they can be used again as either fertilizers or soil amendments. The most common method of organic recycling is composting. Composting is when microorganisms break down organic matter into simpler compounds that can be used as plant nutrients.
To start composting, you will need four things:
Organic waste is the fuel for the composting process. The microorganisms that break down the organic matter need oxygen to do their job, so good air circulation is important. Too much water will drown the microorganisms, so the compost should be moist but not soggy. Lastly, heat speeds up composting by making the microorganisms more active.
There are two types of composting: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic composting requires oxygen to work, while anaerobic composting does not. Anaerobic composting is slower and can produce unpleasant odors. The majority of home composting systems are aerobic.
What does the research say about organic recycling:
A study done in 2015 found that organic waste made up about 60% of the total waste generated in the United States. Of this, only 3.6% was composted. The other 96.4% went to landfills or incinerators.
In terms of environmental benefits, it is estimated that if all food waste in the United States were composted, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking 2 million cars off the road.
Composting can also have economic benefits. For example, it has been estimated that if all food waste in New York City were composted, it would save the city $100 million per year in landfill costs.
Around the world, organic recycling rates vary widely. For example, in South Korea, almost 80% of food waste is recycled, while in the United States, only 3.6% is recycled.
Despite the many benefits of organic recycling, some challenges still need to be addressed. One of the biggest challenges is getting people to actually do it. Composting can be smelly and messy, and it requires some effort to set up and maintain a composting system. However, there are many ways to make composting easier, such as using a kitchen countertop compost bin or an outdoor tumbler compost bin. Another challenge is that organic waste can attract pests like rats and flies. This can be prevented by covering the compost bin or using a special compost bin with a tight-fitting lid.
The final challenge is that organic waste can take up a lot of space. This is especially true for food waste, which can take up a lot of space in the kitchen. One way to reduce the amount of space needed for organic recycling is to use a food waste disposer. This is a device that grinds up food waste so that it takes up less space.
Differences between home and industrial organic recycling:
The main difference between home and industrial organic recycling is the scale of the operation. Home composting systems are typically small, while industrial composting facilities can be very large.
Another difference is that industrial composting facilities often use special machines to speed up the composting process. For example, some facilities use giant drums that tumble the organic waste to break down more quickly.
Finally, industrial composting facilities usually have strict regulations that they must follow. For example, they may be required to keep records of what goes into the compost and how it is managed.
Organic recycling has many benefits. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves money, and creates a valuable product for gardening and agriculture. It is also much better for the environment than sending organic waste to landfills or incinerators. Landfills produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, while incinerators release carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas. In addition, organic recycling helps to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. This is important because landfills are a major pollution source and take up a lot of space. Recycling organic waste comes with more benefits than one, and if you are even remotely interested in the process, you can find guides teaching you exactly how to do it. And if you don't want to do it on your own, talk to a professional.
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