September 2021

TEXT-ONLY VERSION (scroll to bottom to download Newsletter in PDF)

Composting

Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter into a valuable product that can enrich soil and plants. Composting simply speeds up the process of decomposition by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms to do their work.

Organic Waste Composting

Open vs closed composting systems.

The Western Cape has decided  that by 2022, 50% of all organic waste will be banned/diverted from going to landfill. With a 100%  by 2027. Unfortunately, landfill disposal remains the main method of disposal for organic waste. This is particularly worrying as organic waste causes a variety of significant negative effects for e.g.  the large volume of organic waste increasingly occupies scarce landfill space and produces leachate (which requires expensive containment infrastructure to prevent groundwater and environmental contamination). Organic waste on landfill is also a significant contributor to greenhouse gases resulting from the production of methane during a largely anaerobic (without oxygen) decomposition process.

Composting offers an environmentally superior alternative to landfill disposal and offers many benefits, economic and environmental. EarthPet utilises a closed or contained composting system which provides the additional benefit of no environmental contamination which can occur during the standard open row composting method. When handling animal remains that are hazardous to the environment it is vital that absolutely no environmental contamination occurs. Whilst composting in general offers many benefits, there are marked differences between open and closed systems specifically with regards to the composting of animal mortalities.

EarthPet’s Process

EarthPet utilizes a closed, contained composting system. This differs from open row-composting as we make use of a bio-chamber or bio-bag. Air is constantly circulated throughout the system to allow for aerobic (Oxygen present) decomposition to take place. The bio-chambers provide the added advantage that no environmental contamination can take place.  Our system has previously been used by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture to assist with the recent African Swine Fever outbreak and has received attention and interest from the United Nations for similar use in an outbreak situation.

Open Row Composting

Closed Composting

Advantages:
(On the condition compost rows are properly managed and built, general composting advantages will apply.)

• Degradation of harmful pharmaceutical residues.
• Destruction of pathogenic organisms.
• Reduced emissions.

Open composting is prone to mismanagement which results in all advantages to be null and void.

Disadvantages:
• Prone to odours and environmental & groundwater contamination.
• Requires space and locations generally set away from urban and sub-urban areas.
• Requires a large amount of carbon in the form of additional organic matter.
• Expensive in terms of labour & input costs.
• Can attract wildlife, birds, scavengers, rodents, & insects.
• Leaching of harmful residues can occur.
• Harsh weather can disrupt process.
• Labour intensive and lengthy process.
Advantages:

• No odours.
• Allows pet owners to visit site.
• No environmental contamination.
• Reduced emissions – any greenhouse gases produced can be contained for use as an energy source.
• Destruction of pathogenic organisms.
• Degradation of harmful pharmaceutical residues.
• No attraction of wildlife, birds, scavengers, rodents, & insects.
• Not dependent on external climate.
• Can be utilized in urban & sub-urban areas.
• Less labour intensive & quicker process.
• Mismanagement rare.
• Affordable solution.

Disadvantages:
• Requires infrastructure – high input cost.
• Power source needed- however easily runs on renewable energy.

EarthPet’s Infographic:

2022 : 50% of organic waste to be diverted from landfills in the Western Cape by 2022.

65-90% : It is estimated that between 65-90% of organic waste (including food waste) collected by municipalities is dumped at landfills

Harmful Pharmaceutical Residues : Animals that have been euthanised pose a great danger to scavengers and other wildlife. Wildlife may be attracted to the animal carcass and become intoxicated. EarthPet’s closed composting system prevents this from happening.

Composting: Has been shown to degrade Sodium Pentobarbital (a harmful euthanasia drug) and cause the destruction of pathogens.

45% of animal carcasses collected by EarthPet were euthanised. 30% : Organic waste forms approximately 30% of the waste stream in the Western Cape. Diverting organic waste from landfill will save landfill airspace and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.