On Thursday, the Virginia Recycling Association (VRA) announced that it will create a subcommittee with the purpose of promoting organic waste recovery and recycling within the Commonwealth.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says that 25% of the landfill waste in the state is organic. The subcommittee’s mission will be to provide incentives to the recovery of this waste material and the creation of marketable end-products from that which is recovered.
The VRA says that removing more waste from landfills cuts down on the emission of methane gas, which is a “greenhouse gas” thought by many to be contributing to the decay of the Earth’s protective atmosphere. Additionally, the organic waste can be used to make compost, which adds nutrients to the soil and therefore contributes to agriculture and gardening. Composting also allows farmers to cut down on the amount of fungicides they use; fungicides have been linked to plant diseases.
“The idea of composting food waste and other organic materials is catching on in Virginia,” said VRA Board member Christine McCoy.
Elsewhere, ideas such as the new technology of Anaerobic Digestion have been suggested to make biofuels such as biomethanol and biodiesel from the organic waste. Using organic waste to make biofuels is an idea that is catching on internationally in developed nations, and would allow less dependence on oil and coal as well as mitigating the amount of land and crops needed to create a significant amount of biofuels that can be used to replace some of the fossil fuel sources of energy.
In farming, recycled organic waste could supply an estimated 15% of the soil nutrients that are presently supplied by fertilizers. This would have several benefits.
Farmers would not need to use as much synthetic fertilizer, which would save them money and possibly grow more nutritious crops. With the lesser amount of fertilizer use would follow less fertilizer runoff into rivers and lakes which has been linked to harming fish and fisheries. Water supplies would become cleaner and safer as the amount of nitrates from fertilizer runoff becomes reduced. Too much consuming of nitrates has been linked to cancer, brain damage, and terminal illness.
Reducing landfill volume and area would also appeal to people on an aesthetic level.
With regards to the non-organic waste material currently collected in landfills, some commentators make the case that the best thing to do with them is incinerate it. This process would further clean up the environment.
Virginia Recycling Association (PR Newswire), “Virginia to Recover Organic Waste for Environmental and Commercial Gains”