An Organic Approach

 Does it ever cross your mind how much food you waste each week and where this waste ends up? Perhaps you have hungry chooks who relish the scraps left to their disposal or perhaps you have invested in a DIY worm farm? But perhaps you are one of the many households in a privileged society who do not feel they have to think about their waste once it has been collected from the kerbside on a weekly basis- or what impact this waste is having on the health of the environment and consequently on our own health.

Landfill is a huge producer of carbon emissions, in particular methane, which poses seriously detrimental effects on the environment. According to the National Waste Policy, around two thirds of all waste taken to landfill is organic. It is the decomposition of these organics which produces most of the methane coming from landfill. Traditionally, organic waste was returned to the land as part of the nitrogen cycle- providing nutrients and nitrogen back into the soil for the subsequent growth of other organisms. So to put it into perspective, over ½ your red wheelie bin is filled with items that can be reused and recycled by the land. Instead, they are taken to landfill where proper composting techniques cannot be implemented and concentrated amounts of noxious gases are released into the atmosphere.

Armidale council, however, has a system in place which aims to address the rising environmental problems stemming from human organic waste in landfill. The ‘City-to-Soil’ program is based on the ‘Groundswell Project’, an initiative adopted by Goulburn, Mulwaree, Lachlan Shire, Palerang Shire and Queanbeyan City Councils to reduce household and commercial organics ending up in landfill. The project aims to collect and process organic waste, making the compost generated available for sale to members of the public. By converting our waste into a utilisable substance we are supporting local growers, helping the environment, improving soil fertility and reducing waste costs.

The program requires nothing more of you than putting your food scraps into a separate bin that can be easily adapted to all households. Armidale Dumaresq Council provides both the compostable (different from biodegradable) liner bags and a 7L caddy bin, specially designed to maximise aeration and thus prevent odour. The full bags are simply put in the green bins that are collected fortnightly.

Organic waste items that can be placed into your compost bin include: - raw or cooked food - tea bags and coffee grounds - fruit and veges - leftovers - fish or meat bones - paper towels

The ‘City-to-Soil’ program is a practical way of disposing waste- using natural methods to convert it into a material that is vital for the replenishment of the land involved in agricultural practices. Partaking in this program is simple- all you have to do is pick up your free compostable bags and kitchen bin from the Armidale Council- Rusden St- and utilize them to collect any kitchen/household organic waste.

The extra bonus is the satisfaction of knowing your waste is not contributing to the growing environmental problems of landfill and rubbish disposal, as well as providing support to local growers.

If you would like more information on the ‘City-to-Soil’ program, contact Armidale Dumaresq City Council on 6770 3600 or visit www.armidale.nsw.gov.au

- Monica Fortunaso

A Word with Judd - July 2013

It's About the Students