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What Does the Future of Composting Hold?

Thanks to its efficiency, composting has become an increasingly popular practice. Yet, similarly to other modern processes such as industrial automation and agriculture production, composting now looks to innovate. It strives to go beyond taking wasted products and recycling essential nutrients, and move towards an entirely sustainable future and economy built on composting.


Composting holds potential as a partial solution to climate change mitigation. Rebecca Ryals, professor at the University of California at Merced, noted that “carbon is a climate solution because it helps sequester carbon in the soil”, ultimately reducing the overall emissions of a company. As a result, more companies are examining composting as a sustainable solution. If corporations choose to send organic materials to be composted instead of being sent to landfills, they can help to reduce overall methane emissions in the environment. They separate the key nutrients that wouldn’t occur in a landfill and help to increase the vitality of struggling environments against climate change by utilizing nutrients to feed soil and prevent erosion.


As Travis Engen, the CEO of Alcan says: “We know that the profitable growth of our company depends on the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our communities across the world. And we know it is in our best interests to contribute to the sustainability of those communities." Surely proponents of corporate sustainability will continue to look closely at the progress of composting as a mitigation practice in the future.


How about those who compost within their homes? While many have jumped on the incredible environmental benefits that composting can provide to their own local environments, some have hesitated due to composting’s negative association as “a very stinky project that takes a bunch of time and only makes sense if you have a huge backyard.” However, new technologies have dated this misconception.


New composting systems are designed to be as convenient as possible for those living in smaller spaces, and the process has become increasingly streamlined for the everyday individual. For those concerned over the smell, odor prevention is fairly easy to overcome. Some products can do the job for you, but the essential “composting “hack” behind getting rid of the strong odors that compost can bring lies in basic chemistry. Compost typically doesn’t get enough access to oxygen, leading to odors which happen in anaerobic (or low oxygen) situations. Simply aerating your compost pile by turning it (which prevents clumping) will allow for more oxygen access, allowing foul odors to leave more quickly than they have the chance to set in.


While some challenges remain in integrating composting at a larger scale, no doubt remains there is no doubt that it holds incredible potential as a way to protect our environment, combat the effects of climate change, and work to prevent emissions that would elongate climate change’s impact on our future.



References

Combating climate change - us composting council. Composting Council. (n.d.). Retrieved August 2021, from https://www.compostingcouncil.org/page/ClimateChangeBenefits


Rachal, C. R. and M. (2021, February 3). 7 takeaways on organics recycling trends from COMPOST2021. Waste Dive. Retrieved August 2021, from https://www.wastedive.com/news/7-takeaways-compost-organics-recycling-climate/594428/


Rhoades, H. (2021, February 22). Compost smells bad: How to fix bad smelling compost. Gardening Know How. Retrieved August 2021, from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/basics/compost-smells-bad.htm


Richard, T. (n.d.). Odor Management. Cornell Composting. Retrieved August 2021, from http://compost.css.cornell.edu/odors/odor.html


Teicher, J. G. (2021, January 20). How composting has gone high-tech. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 2021, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-composting-has-gone-high-tech-11611163718


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