How much does organic waste cost?

How much does organic waste cost?

How much does organic waste cost?

While it is clear that composting has many environmental benefits (more details in this article), its economic benefits are often overlooked. However, sorting organic waste comes with significant costs. But how much exactly are these costs?

According to the Eurostat report, in 2016, Belgium produced 5,573 kg of waste per capita per year, of which 8.5% comes from households, which represents about 470 kg/inhab/yr.

Depending on the region and municipality, this impressive quantity of waste, whether raw (general waste) or selective (plastic, cardboard/paper, glass, organic waste), must make us think about possible methods of reducing or treating this waste.

All the more so when we know that, according to the same sources, 50% of our rubbish bins are made up of organic waste, i.e. compostable material that can be broken down and recovered in one form or another, in other words recycled.

The figures in France are of the same order of magnitude since, according to the Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME), 46.3 million tonnes of organic waste (excluding agriculture and forestry) are produced annually, which is more or less equivalent in 2015 to 260 kg/inhab/yr.

Although it is still very clear that the best waste is the one that is not produced, we are obliged to note that until we reach absolute zero waste, we must tackle the problem of recycling. Currently, in this context, two solutions proposed by the municipalities are used to recycle organic waste: composting platforms (which work aerobically) and bio-methanisation units (which work anaerobically).

In both cases, and not taking into account the problems of contamination that these solutions may encounter (some waste may contain unwanted pollutants), this recycling has of course a cost borne by the community. This cost is divided between waste collection and treatment.

For example, in France, the Federation of Medium-sized Cities (FMV) in partnership with Sita, the subsidiary of Suez Environnement specialised in waste services, found that the average cost of household waste collection in 62 cities with populations of 20,000 to 100,000 was 117 euros per tonne collected (ranging from 49 to 162.- euros).

This figure corresponds to a collection of the waste from the house to the place of treatment (if the waste is taken to the waste disposal centre, the cost drops to an average of 86,- euro). If 117,- euro per tonne of waste seems low, don't forget to add this to the 46,3 million tonnes of bio-waste mentioned at the beginning of this article (which gives a more substantial figure of about 5,4 billion euro!).

And this large sum only covers the collection of bio-waste, not its treatment! If we talk about the recycling of bio-waste, and again by way of example (this time in Belgium), we have to admit that the prices charged by the treatment companies are also not negligible. For example, the cost of composting platforms for municipalities is around 43.00 euros per tonne and 75.00 euros per tonne for bio-methanisation units.

Unfortunately, the value of these various means of recycling is always lower than the costs they entail. The same is true for the pure and simple incineration of household waste, which is very often polluting.

Finally, when you know that food waste is 70-95% water, you quickly realise how absurd these collection and processing costs can seem.

The concept of the indoor composter was born from this observation, among others. Greenzy!

Why not avoid this long circuit as much as possible on a recycling operation that could be carried out by each family without leaving the kitchen? By proposing its indoor composter which, from food waste, allows to generate in more or less two months a compost that can be directly used on one's indoor plants or on the neighbourhood vegetable gardens that are flourishing at the moment, Greenzy proposes a real alternative and a real economy of scale, all with a design device, without odours and perfectly adapted to families of about 4 people.

Sources :

1. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Waste_statistics/fr#La_production_totale_de_d.C3.A9chets
2. https://www.actu-environnement.com/ae/news/cout-collecte-traitement-dechets-villes-moyennes-fmv-sita-19374.php4
3. http://ecogreenvalorisation.com/wp-content/uploads/recyclage-des-dechets-organiques-alimentaires-3.pdf
4. https://dial.uclouvain.be/downloader/downloader.php?pid=thesis%3A2797&datastream=PDF_01
5.https://www.ademe.fr/sites/default/files/assets/documents/dechets_chiffrescles_essentiel2018_010690.pdf

Waste collection and treatment in times of containment: a real headache?

Waste collection and treatment in times of containment: a real headache?

Waste collection and treatment in times of containment: a real headache?

We keep saying it. We are living in unprecedented times. This is especially true in our industrialised societies, where the community bears a large part of the responsibility for helping its citizens.

This ranges from the insurance companies that are supposed to support and insure all our problems, to the energy suppliers that supply us no matter what, to the government that assures us of a minimum wage, sufficient medical coverage or even the collection of household waste in all circumstances.

This last point is particularly interesting, as the coronavirus crisis also affected waste collection organisations, which saw staff absenteeism increase by 23% (in the Brussels region, see 1, 2), leading to limitations in the number of collections and less selective recycling, thus undermining the governments' commitment to sustainability.

In addition to this problem, which is mainly based on the society in which we live, there is a very individual and human phenomenon: the notion of priority. A study by the SoPrism agency on the Belgian population (see 3) showed that, among the values and causes that were in decline between January and April 2020, sustainable development and global warming had decreased by about 70%. Clearly, recycling and sorting are no longer the concern of households at the moment.

And it is in this general context that Greenzy can bring its small stone to an edifice that is so complex and fragile! By facilitating composting, by allowing recycling without thinking about it, by simplifying a complex process, the Greenzy composter relieves both the collection and the treatment of waste. It reduces selective sorting and recycling to the simple gesture of putting organic waste in what looks like a dustbin in order to obtain the recycled product directly. It gives households the opportunity to do something simple to help our precious planet.

By Eric Van Cutsem

Sources:

1. https://www.rtl.be/info/vous/temoignages/coronavirus-a-bruxelles-les-sacs-poubelles-jaunes-et-bleus-sont-ils-encore-recycles-1213434.aspx
2. https://www.proximus.be/pickx/fr/2033181/bruxelles-proprete-reduit-les-tournees-du-tri-selectif-par-manque-de-personnel
3. SoPrism study: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/soprism_evolution-of-interest-during-the-containment-activity-6657946486409568256-Iq67

How to compost in the city?

How to compost in the city?

How to compost in the city?

"Every year, Brussels residents produce 126,000 tonnes of food waste, 90% of which is incinerated. These figures, presented in La Libre Belgique on 24 February 2020, are alarming. They show us that most organic waste is often not sorted, despite the existing solutions. Our article "Composting: a step towards a circular economy within everyone's reach" also raises this issue. You can find it here.

To learn more about the existing solutions in the city, we advise you to read the article " Le compost urbain a le vent en poupe " in La Libre Belgique. You can find it in the February 24th edition of the newspaper, or here for the online version.

This nice article highlights neighbourhood initiatives such as collective composts. In Brussels, volunteers from the ASBL Worms who manage them. They provide a significant advantage over communal bins for organic waste; the waste is converted into quality fertiliser that is used directly for local food production. A great project that we encourage you to undertake!

Indeed, Worms offers us an efficient solution to take another step towards food autonomy in the city. These citizens' initiatives make it possible to process a few hundred tonnes of organic waste each year. This is a promising amount, but still too little.

For those who do not have access to land, the article recommends the use of bokashi (fermentation of organic matter), the breeding of black soldier flies, vermicompost or the acquisition of a Greenzy composter! We are proud to see that La Libre Belgique highlights the simplicity of use of our composter, its connected aspect and the alliance it offers between technology and the natural composting process... We won't tell you more, all the information is available on our website.

Composting: a step towards a circular economy within everyone's reach!

Composting: a step towards a circular economy within everyone's reach!

Composting: a step towards a circular economy within everyone's reach!

50% of our waste is compostable! It is important to compost this waste because it is the only technique that does not generate substances other than those inherent to life and usable by the plant world. In this respect, it is essential to compost at home and not in communal facilities, because "bin liners, collection, transport, incineration and landfill generate environmental (and financial) costs that can be significant". This is not us saying this (although we agree 100%!), it is Wallonia environment as well as many scientific studies (such as the one carried out by the DTU in Denmark or the one by the University of Barcelona). We must therefore prevent our organic waste from leaving its place of birth (i.e. mainly our kitchens and gardens). To do this, there is nothing like individual or neighbourhood composting. In addition, numerous studies and field experiments (see here) inform us that spreading our compost on the soil increases its ability to store carbon from the air and retain water. Taking all this into account, DTU researchers estimate that one tonne of composted organic waste reduces greenhouse gases by 35 kg CO2 equivalent[1]. This is about the same as a tree does in a year! In addition to this already very satisfying impact, composting also increases the diversity of fauna and flora. Composting therefore provides real benefits and has an important impact on our future! However, according to a recent study by Wallonia environment47% of Walloons do not compost their organic waste. The main difficulties that we, the citizens, mention to justify this disastrous figure are :
  • Lack of access to compost. Indeed, 48% of people living in urban areas do not have access to a compost bin. This is huge!
  • Lack of know-how (14%). It is true that composting is not easy. However, it is all the more rewarding if the compost obtained is of good quality: it is important to avoid the release of odours and the production of toxic compounds.
  • The source of nuisance that compost represents (13%). It is true that organic waste tends to give off bad smells and attract unpleasant visitors to the kitchen...
  • Lack of time (12%). Indeed, in addition to requiring considerable know-how, good composting requires sustained attention.
To remedy this, the new Walloon Waste-Resources Plan (PWD-R) has set an ambitious target for 2025: to increase the number of Walloon households composting at home by 23%. But what does this mean in terms of environmental impact? A 23% increase in the number of Walloon households composting at home will actually reduce the amount of household waste by 18,200 tonnes per year and reduce the carbon footprint by 637 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (according to the latest studies). This is equivalent to almost 9 million km driven by car, or more than 220 times around the earth! Not bad ... However, 2025 is a long way off! Our planet is getting worse and worse and is deteriorating rapidly, you only have to open the newspaper to realise this. Initiatives should be put in place so that this objective can be reached more quickly. A home composting solution should be offered even to people who do not have a garden. Neighbourhood actions should be set up to allow an exchange and an optimal use of the compost obtained. And what if we told you that this will be possible very soon? Indeed, the start-up Greenzy proposes to remedy these problems by providing you with a self-contained, intelligent indoor composter: it promises you quality compost and puts you in touch with people in your neighbourhood to give or receive compost. In doing so, Greenzy allows you to take an essential step towards the circular economy and the preservation of our beautiful planet! Interested? Learn more about it here.

Sources :

[1] Wallonia 2017 measurement campaign, figures available here: http: //environnement.wallonie.be/publi/education/guide_compostage.pdf

 

[2] Composting organic waste, Wallonie environnement SPW, 2018: http: //environnement.wallonie.be/publi/education/guide_compostage.pdf

[3] Boldrin, A., Andersen, J. K., Møller, J., Christensen, T. H., & Favoino, E. (2009). Composting and compost utilization: accounting of greenhouse gases and global warming contributions. Waste Management & Research, 27(8), 800-812.

[4] Martínez-Blanco, J., Colón, J., Gabarrell, X., Font, X., Sánchez, A., Artola, A., & Rieradevall, J. (2010). The use of life cycle assessment for the comparison of biowaste composting at home and full scale. Waste Management, 30(6), 983-994.

[5] Walloon Waste and Resources Plan: http: //environnement.wallonie.be/rapports/owd/pwd/PWDR_3.pdf

[6] Barometer of waste prevention in Wallonia, 2018: http: //environnement.wallonie.be/rapports/owd/dechets_menagers/ipsos/Barometre_prevention_2018.pdf

[7] ZeroWaste France: https: //www.zerowastefrance.org/traitement-dechets-gaz-effet-serre/


 

[1] The various greenhouse gases have different impacts. In order to better compare them and sum up their emissions, the "CO2 equivalent" is used. This is a unit that assigns for one kg of a greenhouse gas the quantity of kg ofCO2 that would lead to a similar greenhouse effect.