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Why is it worse to landfill food waste compared to composting?

There is a lot of knowledge to pick up as you develop this environmentally friendly habit if you are just starting off with composting. Perhaps you are already aware of how beneficial it is to the environment and how vitally important it is to the soil's nitrogen needs.

You might at some time ponder whether composting is preferable to landfilling after doing some research on the topic. Wouldn't the addition of organic waste to landfills hasten the decomposition of rubbish? Even though compost undoubtedly helps gardeners and the produce they grow, is it still important if you don't have a garden?

All of these inquiries are excellent! We'll thus examine the distinction between composting and landfilling today as well as what happens to compostable waste in a landfill.

landfills or compost: what’s the difference?

You might be in for a surprise if you think that putting food scraps in the trash feels better than throwing away takeout containers made of styrofoam. Compared to landfills, composting is much more environmentally friendly. This is why.

The choice is between anaerobic and aerobic breakdown. No need to worry if you have never heard of those words. We'll investigate what they imply.

Compost is so good for the earth in part because it contains bacteria that are helpful to plants. Aerobic = With Oxygen. Your apple core must be exposed to air for it to decompose into nutrient-rich humus. Bacteria then produce heat as they consume the organic material, a process known as aerobic decomposition. This is the reason a compost pile has a high natural temperature. You should also turn your pile occasionally to let oxygen-loving bacteria more air.

Anaerobic means "without oxygen," and food waste disposed of in landfills is treated as such. It is covered in a mountain of trash and piled up next to non-organic things. Anaerobic bacteria convert organic material into acids and ammonia without any turning or oxygen in sight. Even worse, a consequence of this process is the production of CH4 (methane gas).

Unfortunately, due to human influence, methane gas production has already increased over the last 200 years. Methane traps radiation 25 times more effectively than carbon dioxide, another major greenhouse gas. According to estimates, consumer garbage at landfills in the United States produced 17% of the nation's methane emissions in 2020.

However, it's still possible for us people to cut back on methane emissions! Methane has a lifespan of, on average, 12 years. On the other hand, carbon dioxide endures for years or perhaps millennia. However, if we start composting our food waste right away rather than throwing it in the trash, the environment will benefit.

What happens to compostable items in a landfill?

In a landfill, a biodegradable object is imprisoned between layers of stagnant waste, which makes it take considerably longer for it to degrade. Organic waste ferments and overproduces methane in the absence of oxygen and aerobic microbes. When it comes to retaining heat in our atmosphere, methane outperforms carbon dioxide.

But what if you don't have a compost pile in your backyard for organic waste? Maybe you're concerned that the undercounter compost bin is too untidy to manage because you live in an apartment complex.

You can achieve better composting efficiency by placing your compost in appropriate airtight bins, turning these airtight bins occasionally, and opening the lid to allow the compost to receive proper oxygen.

After that, we'll look at all the benefits of composting over landfills.

Why is composting better than landfills?

Comparing composting versus throwing your leftover takeout in the trash has a lot of advantages. Whether you choose to start an outdoor compost pile or an inside kitchen compost, your activities will contribute to a more favorable climate. Look at all the advantages it offers.

Composting is preferable to landfills because it lowers methane gas emissions from aerobically decomposed organic material. Global climate change is currently being caused by the enormous levels of greenhouse gas emissions that humans have been producing.

Reduce trash: Reducing waste in general is one of the key advantages of the composting process. There will be less garbage to produce methane gas if we dispose of less food waste in landfills.

Improve soil health: By improving the cation exchange capacity of the soil, composting increases the soil's capability to hold onto positively charged nutrients (CEC). This supports the general fertility and health of the soil.

Prevent soil erosion: Stormwater runoff is more likely when soil is densely packed and overly fertilized. Compost-enriched dirt is better at absorbing and retaining water.

Reduce the use of chemical fertilizers since they frequently overfertilize soil and pollute groundwater. Crops profit from the slow release of nutritious plant-food that compost releases as it decomposes over time.

Grow more nutritious vegetables since composted waste is rich in the minerals, fungus, and microorganisms that produce needs to thrive. Fruits and vegetables grow stronger in this biodiverse soil, enhancing their resistance to pests and disease.

Spend less money: Composting at home greatly lowers your rubbish expense. You'll use fewer plastic garbage bags each week and spend less on trash collection.

Reuse yard waste: Once you start composting, you might be astonished at how much more material you can throw in the pile. Dry leaves, grass clippings, and yard trimmings can all be included in the compost. This is also a perfect spot to add lingering, large landscaping detritus if your city is fortunate enough to offer a green bin garbage collection service.

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