Organic waste, composting and innovation

rifiuti organici

Organic waste forms a third of daily solid urban waste. The best way to dispose of it is to transform them into a useful substance valued in agriculture, through the process of composting. In Italy, organic waste is collected separately through recycling, which is mandatory in the vast majority of the state, and delivered to specialised centres for composting. Once shredded and aerobically fermented, organic waste becomes great compost. The compost is a mixture similar to brown soil, soft, obtained by means of shredding and fermenting process (composting) of organic waste. It is used mainly in agriculture to improve the nutritional characteristic of the coil. Compost adds organic material (humus), active microorganisms and microelements to the soil.

Applying composting on a large scale we could completely solve the organic waste problem. For a correct composting process, is fundamental to make great recycling, excluding every type of waste that will preclude the transformation process. In the organic waste, you must not dispose of liquids, metals, glass, pottery, medicines, bandages, tampons and diapers!

Focus: what is organic waste?

The major organic waste is:
Leftovers of raw and cooked foods, bones and fishbones, leftovers of vegetables cleaning, the shells of shellfish, shells of dried fruits, eggshells, pasta, flours, earth, grass/dry leaves/garden waste (cut flowers and seedlings in small quantities, otherwise check with the recycling section of your province how to dispose of green waste), wood residues, toothpicks, cork (not synthetic), ash, charcoal, matches, coffee and tea grounds, cat and dog litter (not synthetic), greasy paper, wooden boxes (in small quantities, otherwise check the nearest waste recycling and collection centre), dirty handkerchiefs, etc.

Self-made composting

In some cases, it is possible to composting in our homes, in the garden or on the balcony. If the composting is done properly, you can obtain a great nutritious soil for the flower pots and the vegetable garden. It is important to follow a few simple rules to avoid problems during the fermentation. Without oxygen, anaerobic processes start, producing gasses and sewage, harmful for the atmosphere, the soil and the underground water. This is the situation that happens inside conventional landfills, where organic waste stays active for more than 30 years.

The rules of self-made composting (in brief)

The composter position

If you live in a flat, you can dedicate a part of your balcony to composting, or I suggest you to keep reading this post to discover a device that allows composting inside the home in just 48 h. If instead, you have a vegetable garden, a small garden or a piece of lawn, you can place a composter, often made of plastic to gather the organic waste during the process, or dig a hole in the ground. Place your composter possibly in the shadows of an evergreen tree to protect it from excessive heat and rain. Hoe the soil under the composter and put a bed of dry leaves/leftovers of pruning to facilitate the draining and the exchange of microorganisms with the soil.

How to garantee a correct oxigenation

Ensure a constant presence of oxygen following some advice: promote the porosity of the composting mass (interchanging kitchen leftovers with shredded wood from pruning, straw, dry leaves, pieces of cardboard) to implement the ventilation; do not press the mass; turn over the mass from time to time. Obtain the correct composition of the composting mass mixing leftovers with more water and nitrogen (kitchen leftovers, grass) with those drier and with more carbon (dry leaves, straw, cardboard, wood chips).

Humidity, temperature and time

Check the humidity of the mass, that need to stay humid, neither too dry nor too wet. Intervene in watering or adding dry leftovers to regulate it. If everything goes well, the temperature will rise to 60-70°C (140-158°F) and will activate the final phase of sanitation in which the high heat eliminates the microorganisms harmful to the process and the pathogenic ones.

The compost is ready about 4-6 months after the activation of the process. If very fresh, it’s better to use it as it was manure, avoiding direct contact with the plant’s roots. After 8-10 months, the compost is matured and looks like soft and dark soil.

Composting is a long process generally practised in open-air, to avoid the smells coming from the decomposition of organic waste.

Organic waste, composting and innovation

To solve this problem, a team of German engineers developed an innovative product: KALEA. KALEA is a device to turn organic waste into compost in just 48 hours, inside your home, without smell or insects.

KALEA

The device can process the typical weekly volume of organic waste of a family of 4 people (approximately two cycles of 10 litres each). A shredding system process the kitchen scraps, even nutshells. Thus, the volume is reduced by 85%. When enough material accumulates, KALEA automatically passes it in the composting chamber. A perfect combination of temperature, humidity and ventilation wakes up the natural microorganisms that are a natural part of every organic material and accelerates their metabolism. This allows composting in just 48 hours. The compost can be stored for up to two years.

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