Worms & Zero Waste
What role does vermiculture play in the zero waste infrastructure?
50% of our municipal waste stream is biodegradable.
That means that with the right process to properly decompose these materials, we have the ability to reduce landfill waste by half. Properly separating and decomposing biodegradable also removes the wettest, heaviest and most odorous material from our waste stream.
I challenge everyone reading this post to divert their biodegradable waste for a week and learn firsthand what I am talking about – when organics are kept separate from your trash bin, it is easier to sort recyclables, your bin is less smelly and you begin to keep track of how much packaging plastics and other non-recyclables you are producing.
Now, composting is an obvious tool for home residents to divert their waste. But what happens when we talk about large scale producers who deal with tons of food-waste? I am talking about restaurants, school district, hospitals, food packaging facilities and other big time “food wasters.”
An average small restaurant can produce 100 pounds of food waste, paper and cardboard scraps a week. Now think about how many restaurants, schools, institutions and others businesses are within 5 miles of your home.
A large volume of biodegradable waste is expensive to get rid of and one of the most significant causes of landfill odor and air pollution. Biodegradable waste is also incredibly valuable because it contains rich nutrients and can be a vital source of carbon.
Every day, people buy synthetic versions of these nutrients in order to fertilize their lawns and gardens. In fact, their use in landscaping and agriculture actually degrades the earth and makes the soil more dependent on herbicides, pesticides and insecticides.
I believe 50% is just the start.
As more and more single use petroleum plastic items get replaced with biodegradable materials, our waste systems will become more efficient and less expensive. Eventually, food waste, paper, cardboard and biodegradable plastics will become cheaper to dispose of and more readily available on the market.
Vermiculture is an efficient and sustainable way to manage biodegradable material. Vermiculture is the process where earthworms and complementary microorganisms break down biodegradable material, including food scraps, cardboard and paper, into organic matter.
Worms and microorganisms work 24/7 to breakdown and process waste;
they sequester the rich nutrients and carbon from food into a rich soil amendment;
and they do all of this without any help from humans.
Vermiculture, unlike other composting processes, does not require additional heat or turning.
Because the process is entirely mesophilic, the site where worms and organisms work remains between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows vermiculture to be an odorless process, and for the end product to capture the full spectrum of nutrients from the waste.
So the worms and microorganisms can breakdown the materials quickly and effectively. But what exactly is the end product?
There are two sellable products. A soil amendment that has the consistency of coffee grounds and a liquid fertilizer often called “worm tea.” These products are approved for organic agriculture and are tested to outperform synthetic chemicals significantly over time. These products are key building blocks for building humus, the rich organic matter that allows for healthy soil.
healthy soil -> healthy plants -> healthy food and green-spaces -> healthy communities.
- Jacob Fox, CEO Organix Green Industries
Organix Green Industries has been operating scaled vermiculture facilities since 2006. We construct and operate facilities for biodegradable waste ranging from a ½ ton to 2,000 tons per year. Our mission is help communities divert waste from landfills by building decentralized facilities that provide a sustainable alternatives to hauling, and creating soil amendment and fertilizer that revitalizes eroding and chemical-dependent soil.