How New York Is Turning Food Waste Into Compost and Gas
City officials hope to divert organic refuse from landfills. Where will it all go?
New Yorkers already have blue and green bins for recycling glass, metal, paper and plastic. But now brown bins for organic waste are starting to appear all over the city. These plastic totems are part of the city’s multimillion-dollar campaign to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on landfills, and to turn food scraps and yard waste into compost and, soon, clean energy.
In the 19th century, the city had a simple method for dealing with organic rubbish: It enlisted scavenging swine to nose through the gutters for leftovers. Now, the city is employing the primal chemistry of decay.
About 14 million tons of waste are thrown out each year. It costs the city almost $400 million annually just to ship what it collects from homes, schools and government buildings (by rail, barge or truck) to incinerators or landfills as far away as South Carolina. (In addition, dozens of private companies put trucks on the road to take away refuse from office buildings and businesses.)
The largest single portion of the trash heap is organics, or things that were once living. That apple core, that untouched macaroni salad, that slice of pizza and the greasy paper plate it was served on are heavy with moisture, which makes shipping expensive. As they decompose, they release methane, a greenhouse gas.
Fruit and veg come in their own natural wrapping. Why do we smother them in plastic?
When I arrive home from a big shop, or receive a delivery, I spend 10 minutes unwrapping packaging and putting it in the bin, renaturing my fresh fruit and vegetables before I’m able to cook them.
Plastic is choking our oceans, polluting our waterways and even contaminating our food, but it still dominates our shelves. More than 300m tonnes of it is produced each year, according to (pdf) trade association Plastics Europe. In the UK, just a third of plastic packaging used for consumer products gets recycled.
Fruit and vegetables are washable and often come in their own – compostable – wrapping designed by nature. Yet we choose to display them in plastic trays, themselves cling-wrapped in another layer of plastic.
Full article here : https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jun/28/fruit-vegetables-plastic-packaging-food-relationship-pollution
A report from bioeconomy consultants NNFCC has found that for Britain to meet its target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042, recycling alone is insufficient and must be complemented by bioplastics.
Biodegradable plant-based plastics could form a base for a world-leading research industry, the report suggests. It highlights that half of plastic packages are unviable for recycling.
Read more : https://www.britishplastics.co.uk/Environment/bioplastics-better-than-total-recycling-for-uk-plastic-waste/
The University of Plymouth has admitted to a ‘discrepancy’ regarding compostables in its study which found biodegradable plastic bags remained functional in soil or marine environments for three years.
The study’s authors said they recognised a “discrepancy” regarding compostables, between their work and the publicity given to it.
They have now modified the text of their findings, with references to compostable bags eliminated everywhere except in one paragraph.
The conclusions show that compostable plastic bags biodegrade in marine environments and that they degrade in soil.
A spokesperson for Italian compostable bioplastics company Novamont said: “The irony is that no one selling compostable plastic bags ever claimed this. They simply claimed that these bags should be composted. Simple.”
Read the full article here : https://www.packagingnews.co.uk/news/waste-management/university-plymouth-corrects-study-show-compostables-biodegrade-07-05-2019