Do you remember this thread: Is Recycling BS? Well, I present to you the sequel.
So my fair city of Seattle has been making a lot noise lately about trying to increase the proportion of trash not hauled off to a landfill. One method they’ve proposed is gathering kitchen scraps and processing them in some sort of municipal composting facility. As I understand, this program has already started for businesses and single-family residences, and will probably be extended to apartments in condos in the near future. Naturally, it’s being marketed as the best thing ever for the environment, bringing urban folks back to the bosom of mother nature and solving global warming at the same time.
But is it BS? They always point to a few pros to a municipal composting program: produces compost, saves room in a landfill, and saves the effort of transporting garbage (it’s transported twice here - once by truck to a transfer facility, then by train to it’s final resting place several hundred miles away). Also, apparently to the degree that the waste is ‘processed’ in the landfill, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Though it seems that this is easily mitigated (and perhaps turned into a positive by capturing that methane and using it as fuel.)
But as we established in the earlier thread, landfill space isn’t particularly limited, and even waste being composted has to be trucked around, though not as far as waste being landfilled. And I think it misses a huge plus of landfilling the material: since it largely doesn’t break down in modern, sanitary landfills, it effectively sequesters a large amount of carbon in a stable environment.
So, how do the tradeoffs shake out? Is composting worthwhile?
(If you want to debate whether or not global warming is real, or bad, or whatever, start your own thread. The rules of this debate presuppose that we want to avoid AGW.)