News - Sep 13, 2022 Rethinking Untold Benefits of Composting
‘We all know that we need to reduce, reuse and recycle,’ explains Peter Rutherford, Senior Ecologist, and Educator at the Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre. ‘But more than this, we need to rethink. We need to rethink everything about this world and that’s what we’re trying to inspire.’
After nearly two weeks of discussing plastics, aluminium cans, and e-waste, the Sustainable Financing for Waste Management Study Tour participants returned to basics today and dug deep – literally – to learn about the importance of composting. While the focus of waste management is often on recycling and recovery, we tend to overlook the importance of where everything begins: the soil.
So what’s the big deal?
When organic waste is dumped in a landfill, microorganisms break it down in a process known as anaerobic digestion. This process releases methane, a gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and a contributor to climate change. Not only is methane extremely flammable (and the cause of many landfill fires), but it also produces toxic leachate that can contaminate land and water systems.
Methane can be captured and used as energy, but this requires a significant amount of infrastructure and planning, and most places, including the Pacific islands, don’t have these systems in place. In fact, 40% of the waste generated in the Pacific is organic waste, but much of this could be resolved by the simple process of composting.
‘Composting has untold benefits,’ continues Peter. ‘Not only does it remove waste from landfills, but it enriches the soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilisers, revitalises water systems, helps to sequester carbon, and most importantly, gives us the opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. Composting gives life to soil – and to us too.’
To put this point across, the study tour participants got their hands dirty, digging deep into composting buckets, turning soil, feeding worms, and learning from Peter and his team’s wealth of knowledge about how these natural systems work.
It is impossible not to be inspired walking around the Kimbriki site. Whether it’s the beautiful gardens bursting with edible flowers, or the names of plants adorned on repurposed records, or the delicate artwork lining the pathways, the inspirational quotes hanging from the trees, or the worms peeking their heads out of the rich soil, the energy is tangible.
‘I actually found today quite moving,’ commented one participant. ‘This whole trip we’ve been looking at the bigger picture, the systems and processes that need to be in place to address waste management, but somehow this really hit home. It was an important reminder that every little action makes a difference and that it’s within all of our capacity to do something to address waste management. This is powerful and it’s quite humbling to remember that, at the end of it all, it’s about the decisions we make every day that really change the world.’
As another commented, ‘Our hearts are alight.’
Article and Photos: GEF ISLANDS/PacWastePlus – Dr Kiara Worth