|#e.25212||Wednesday 10:30AM to 12:00PM
November 20, 2013
CM | 1.50
2013 Speaker Series – Composting and Community Resilience
APA National Capital Area Chapter
Upper Marlboro, MD
Based on the findings of two recent reports from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Composting Makes $en$e Project – Pay Dirt and Building Healthy Soils with Compost to Protect Watersheds, this presentation will feature new research on the jobs sustained through composting and compost use in Maryland. ILSR found, for instance, that 1,400 new full-time jobs could potentially be supported for every 1 million tons of yard trim and food scraps converted into compost that is used locally in green infrastructure and low-impact development. Attendees will also learn about growing markets for compost and its benefits for protecting the climate, enhancing soil, and building community resilience.
Unsustainable patterns of wasting drive climate change, resource depletion, habitat destruction and a range of other environmental crises. The US disposes of 164 millions tons of garbage every year in landfills and trash burners. Of this, 53% represents organic material that potentially could be composted (such as food scraps, yard trimmings, wood waste, and wastepaper). The lion’s share was landfilled. When landfilled, these biodegradable materials break down and produce methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its global warming strength. When composted, however, these materials become an asset that sequesters carbon, reduces soil erosion and runoff, decreases pesticide use, and builds healthy soil. Compost enhances the ability of communities to weather the ravages of droughts and severe storms. Another benefit: composting sustains more jobs than landfills. In short, advancing composting and compost use is a key sustainability strategy to reduce garbage, create jobs, protect watersheds, reduce climate impacts, improve soil vitality, and build resilient local economies.
Lack of awareness of composting’s benefits hampers its growth. There is also a lack of attention paid to developing small-scale locally based systems. Food waste composting is expanding across the country, but where it is institutionalized – such as in San Francisco and Seattle – the systems implemented tend to be centralized, relying on large-scale collection with long distance hauling to out-of-town large-scale regional facilities. This is an improvement over landfilling, but does not capture the maximum environmental or economic benefit for communities. Locally based composting circulates dollars in the community, promotes social inclusion, greens neighborhoods, builds healthy soils, and reuses waste. When materials are transported far away for processing, none of these benefits are realized at the local level. This presentation will educate attendees on the importance of composting to address diverse environmental challenges, while contributing to local economic development.