Natural Area News

Sustainability Initiatives 2016 : Composting

With the growth of our team, we are ever mindful of the impact our activities have on the environment. In 2016, Natural Area are introducing monthly sustainability initiatives in order to reduce, reuse or recycle, increase awareness and contribute to sustainable work practices.

A large part of the Natural Area Sustainability Initiatives (NASI) relies on staff participation and interaction. Each month, we will focus on a sustainability issue and look at ways we can address the issue as a company and encourage staff to think about how they can address the issue as an individual in their own home.

Sustainability Initiative # 2 – Composting

In many areas the land allocated to waste disposal is rapidly filling up. Approximately half of all household waste is organic. Most of this waste can be recycled through composting – turning waste materials into a rich soil supplement for use in your garden. By composting, not only can you help to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill but you can also help to reduce contamination and greenhouse gasses.

Making your own garden compost is a lot easier than most people realise. With a simple heap you can recycle most of your organic household and garden waste and enrich your garden’s soil at the same time. It’s also an extremely satisfying way to help the environment.

A composting system confines the organic material and often controls the conditions in the material so that the breakdown is accelerated. A composting system can be started in old garbage bins, wooden boxes, or in a simple heap

The Problem

Much of the land used for waste disposal cannot be reused in the future because of contamination. This occurs when rubbish in landfills is compressed and the air is squeezed out. The rubbish breaks down anaerobically (without oxygen), which means that acids are produced. The acids affect other rubbish items, such as plastic, to create a toxic mix known as leachate. Leachate collects at the bottom of landfills where it then seeps into the ground water and from there into the waterways.

Greenhouse Gases
As organic waste decomposes in landfill it produces the greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide. These greenhouse gases contribute to worldwide climate change. Most landfill gas is made up of 54% methane and 40% carbon dioxide. Methane is twenty four times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Scientists predict that climate change will impact on all our lives, especially in the areas of agriculture and human health.

What can we do?

By turning food scraps and organic garden waste into compost, we can:
1. Improve soil quality and garden vitality by releasing the rich nutrients in the compost into the soil of your garden.
2. Prevent greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging the aerobic breakdown of organic material and reduce the amount of garden and kitchen waste going to Landfill.
3. Recycle valuable nutrients and reduce the use of artificial fertilisers.

What is Natural Area going to do?

1. Work towards being a ‘composting’ workplace and update the NAH Environmental Management Plan and Policy to reflect this.
2. Provide composting bins at the operational depots for staff to compost their organic waste from lunches.
3. Place composted material on the plants in the Natural Area Seed Orchard.
4. Encourage Natural Area staff to start their own composting regime at home to minimise waste going to landfill.

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