The county I’ve just moved to has a food waste processing plant thingy. When I first lived in a county that started collecting food waste from the kerbside I was quite excited, because I assumed that the council were turning it into compost. It turns out they were, and they were making it available to anyone who wanted it, too. But this processing plant thingy is more complicated.
My ulterior motive
I’m telling you about this with a hidden agenda. If you know how cool the processing plant thingy is, but you don’t currently use your local authority’s food waste collection service ‘cause you’re putting your potato peelings and mouldy leftovers in the black landfill bags, maybe this post might change your ways. (Or persuade you to write to your local authority asking for food waste collection, or ask around to find a composting neighbour who wants your food waste, or just start a compost bin in your garden.)
The educational bit
When food waste is sent to a landfill site and buried it can’t breathe, so as it breaks down it produces methane. Methane is 20 times more greenhouse-gassy than carbon dioxide, as the vegans like to tell people. (Cows produce more methane than anything else, and there are so many cows because people want to eat them. One of the best things you can do for the environment is to eat a little tiny bit less meat.) So sending your biodegradable stuff to landfill isn’t just neutral, it’s actively harming.
The silver lining
Everything’s okay! Because this processing plant does all of that, but it catches the methane and turns it into electricity. This one plant provides enough power for 700 homes at full capacity. Also, the resulting goo is extremely nutritious, and the website says this liquid fertiliser can be used on farmland.
What the website doesn’t tell you is that when you produce electricity for the national grid it is sold, ie: you get paid for it. A council-run generator will provide money for jobs and suchlike.
Why this way is easier than just black-bagging everything on a personal level
Some people are like “ugh I can’t be bothered to have two bins”, and as someone with disability issues I can totally relate to stuff like that. Changes are hard for me (autism) and extra stuff to do is hard too (CFS), so I struggle. But I find having a separate bin for food waste so much better! Here’s why:
- Your food waste goes into a little bin that has biodegradable liners that make it easy to empty. Because the bin is small, you empty it often enough that it doesn’t smell. It’s easy because it’s light and clean.
- You’re not putting rotting food into a bigger bin, so it doesn’t have time to get stinky. This means you can empty the landfill bag less often and your kitchen will be less disgusting.
- The heaviest stuff that goes into your black landfill bag is food waste. Keeping food out of your landfill bag makes it lighter, and you empty it less often.
- When there’s food waste collection, the landfill bag collection is usually less frequent. So food waste is collected every week, and landfill bags every two weeks.
What with food waste and recycling, I’d say a lot less than half of my rubbish is going to landfill. Which is kind of amazing, huh? Well, I think it is, so shush.
I’ll bet the German followers are laughing at us being so behind; they’re shutting down coal power plants ‘cause they don’t need them. :) That should hopefully give a message to anyone who says renewables can’t generate enough.
Anyway, now you all know I’m a big hippy, so there we are.