In Canada, nearly 26 million tons of waste is disposed of each year, of which about 11 million come from homes. These data place the country among the largest producers of waste in the world.¹
In the various waste found in households, 60%² is composed of organic matter. These, also called organic waste, consist mainly of food residues.
The problem with the overproduction of waste (much of which is made up of organic matter), is that when it is not recycled in homes or by municipalities, it is sent to landfills or to be incinerated. There, they emit powerful greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. It is therefore becoming urgent to take action against this issue, because by reducing the quantity of waste sent for disposal, we are also reducing the negative impacts on the environment.
A landfill is a place where residual waste is transported by truck to be buried in the ground. Then, when organic waste is buried, it is deprived of oxygen and therefore releases methane, a biogas 25 times more toxic than CO2 (especially emitted by cars). Among other things, this contributes to global warming.
For example, in Quebec, landfills are responsible for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions.³ Fortunately, some landfills are equipped with a system capable of capturing this methane to transform it into energy, called anaerobic digestion or biomethanization. On the other hand, quantities of gas manage to escape causing damage to the planet.
We also must not overlook the fact that some organic material contains liquid and that it becomes contaminated in contact with other waste, called leachate. Loaded with heavy metals and acids, they in turn pollute groundwater.
Finally, some landfills are nearing capacity. For example, the city of Montreal’s only landfill centre is expected to be full by 2029.⁴
This process consists of burning the waste (including organic waste) to reduce their quantity. It generates many toxic gases harmful to the environment and only 3% of the waste eliminated is used to create electricity or heating.⁵
Some Possible Solutions
Reduce Food Waste
To address this issue, we must start by reducing at the source. Currently, in Canada, 63% of food waste that is still safe to eat ends up in the garbage or in the compost bin of citizens. This represents 140 kg of food per year for a single household, equivalent to $1,100.⁶ That said, if there is less food waste, less organic waste is produced that can be disposed of in landfills.
Recycle Your Food Waste
Instead of sending organic waste for disposal, one solution is to recycle (or recover) it. Here are some ideas: adopt home composting, participate in community composting, register for the municipal organic waste collection or get a device to transform your organic materials into natural fertilizer.
Now that we know all this information, it is easier to understand why it is important to reduce and recycle organic waste and the real impact that such a daily change can have on the environment.
Another important question to ask yourself is how to reduce food waste and recycle organic waste. We have discussed some possible solutions above. To dig deeper into the topic, we’ll soon be posting a second article that will go into more detail on different options that can help you make a difference.
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