Greenwich, Connecticut. An organic waste management initiative called ‘Nature’s Treasure’ started with the simple need of reducing leaf piles from the street. For several reasons the leaves became an issue. They are narrowing the streets, blocking drains and creating slippery conditions in rain. Managing the leaves is time-consuming and therefore expensive, also the leaf blowing is burdensome to people with asthma and allergies.
So the administration of Greenwich wanted to face this issue by using these leaves as a natural fertiliser. Therefore the leaves were shredded on site enhancing soil structure, microbial balance and moisture capacity. Not only this approach saves a lot of time and money, also it creates a much healthier yard for children and pets. The lack of usage of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides has a big impact on ground water quality, air quality and soil quality.
While the initiative in the beginning was intended for property owners — by having leaf pickup points nearby – it expanded quickly to other neighbourhoods and town-owned properties, especially schools. During the development of the waste management it turned out, having a compost containing leaves and food scraps from the school cafeterias is a perfect combination for having a good working compost. Today — after only two and a half years — the program developed so far within the society, that the Conservation Commission Staff designed a program which includes waste sorting in school cafeterias and organic waste management into the school curriculum and educates the children by raising awareness in the field of organic waste.
This small narrative shows a perfect example of how a well-designed system around a problem can develop and change behaviour in a very short amount of time. The benefits of this treatment are innumerable, while the effort of dealing with it stays relatively small.
wheel-loader turning compost on a rubbish tip
On a national level, the Federal Environmental Agency of Germany is dealing amongst other topics with waste management all over Germany. In 2012 the Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz law was the first federal statute to require organic waste to be collected separately. Municipal decision-makers are provided with advice concerning the organic waste management by the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and the UBA titled Ecologically sustainable recovery of bio-waste.
Besides governmental decisions, the amount of organic waste management companies is growing rapidly. The range reaches from products dealing with organic waste to consulting agencies developing a waste management plan for all kind of organisations.
With these insights, it becomes clear that different parts of the system have to work together to develop meaningful approaches. Dealing with organic waste in any case is a rather regional thing, as can be seen by the successful approach of Greenwich. Still the national Government has the possibility to lead in different directions by defining boundaries and providing useful information. The tools which can be used to enhance the situation can be partly provided by different companies specialised in the field of organic waste. A collaboration within these different parts of the system can lead to a fruitful ground enhancing the future of our environment
Greenwich Free Press 2016, Organic Waste Management Program in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, viewed 15 June 2017 <https://greenwichfreepress.com/around-town/organic-waste-management-program-in-greenwich-71599/>
Greenwich Free Press 2016, Jackpot! Black Gold Discovered in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, viewed 15 June 2017 <https://greenwichfreepress.com/around-town/jackpot-black-gold-discovered-in-greenwich-49359/>
Federal Environmental Agency of Germany 2017, Dessau, Germany, viewed 16 June 2017, <http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/topics/waste-resources/waste-disposal/organic-waste-treatment#textpart-3>
Waste Management Inc. 2017, Chicago, USA, viewed 16 June 2017 <https://www.wm.com/us>
AJM Disposal Services Ltd. 2017, Vancouver, Canada, viewed 16 June 2017 <https://www.ajmdisposal.com/>