Did You Know?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), organic material such as paper and paperboard, yard trimmings and food waste continue to be the largest part of the total municipal solid waste generation in the United States (EPA, 2012).
In 2008, Miami Dade County reported 3,769,683 tons of solid waste (Greenprint, 2010). The Miami Dade County two landfills where this solid waste is taken, have recently reported that, in the midst of the new construction boom, the facilities will run out of space by 2032 and 2024 respectively, and are looking to expand to an area destined for Everglades restoration to protect drinking water and fight flooding predicted by sea level rise (Staletovich, 2015).
In this context, it is extremely important to promote the reduction of solid waste disposal such as backyard composting of yard trimmings and food scraps.
Besides waste reduction, compost works as soil conditioner improving plant growth of gardens, sequesters carbon, conserves water, prevents erosion and nutrient runoff and reduces energy and carbon emission used in the transportation of this material to landfills (Rishell, 2014).
Why Compost in general
• Composting is a way to keep organic material out of landfills, thereby avoiding climate warming gases generated by organic materials in landfills.
• Methane is generated in landfills as organic material decays under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.
• Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent in its heat trapping capabilities than carbon dioxide.
• The EPA has identified landfills as one of the largest producers of methane.
• Although methane collection at landfills is becoming more common, the EPA estimates that over the life of a landfill 25% of the methane generated in a landfill with gas collection will still escape into the atmosphere.
• Because methane is so much more damaging than carbon dioxide, the benefits of composting organic material far outweigh the environmental “costs” of collecting, hauling and processing organic material with trucks and equipment that burn fuel.
The U.S. sent 25 million tons of food waste to landfills in 2005. The greenhouse gas impact of composting this mass would be the equivalent of removing 7.8 million passenger cars from the road.