Restaurants and food services are usually the largest energy users and polluters among other businesses. Also, they are the largest compromisers of air quality and consumers of freshwater and toxic chemicals. One of the efforts to control pollution is composting.
What is composting? It is the biological decomposition of organic material by microorganisms under controlled, aerobic conditions to a relatively stable humus-like material called compost that is used as a fertilizer.
Why compost? Reasons given for composting solid waste include to conserve resources, reduce pollution, reduce landfill costs and produce healthy soil. Composting conserve resources by keeling valuable organic material from being landfilled, returning valuable nutrients to the soil and saving fossil fuels that are otherwise used to transport organic waste to the landfill. Composting reduces pollution because organics in landfills breaks down anaerobically, producing methane gas, a substance 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a contributor to climate change. Buried organics can react with metals in landfills to produce toxic leachate that has to be removed and treated to eliminate a potential source of groundwater pollution. Compost is a pollution-free soil enhancer compared to chemical fertilizers whose residues leach nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into sewer systems.
Composting reduces landfill costs by reducing costs for waste collection and disposal because of the reduces waste volume. This, in turn, extends the life of current landfills and will postpone the need for costly new landfill sites.
Composting improves soil texture, air circulation, and water retention by breaking down heavy soils. It feeds the soil, providing the organic matter and nutrients necessary for plant growth and survival and improves yield.
The compost is mild and will not burn plants. It is natural, slow-release fertilizer.
One hotel in the chain converts 15 tons of wet garbage a day into 1 ton of fertilizer and a rich soil conditioner and then sells this compost to horticulturists in the area.
Animal feed. Much research has been done on the feeding of food by-products and food wastes to cattle and sheep. The advantage of the idea is that the wastes are diverted from landfills, the nutrient density of animal diets can be increased, ration costs can be reduced, and profits for farmers may be increased. The challenge of such a program is that the by-products of wastes must be carefully matched to the animal's requirements, transportation and processing must prevent spoilage without adding to costs and moisture content must be reduced.
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