Targeting Net-Zero Organic Waste with Compost Systems

By integrating compost systems into your projects, you can save your clients money and provide them a useful resource.
Apr 12, 2016 6:30 AM ET

IF YOU'RE A GREEN building professional, you likely design and build homes that conserve water and energy once they’re occupied. But what about the waste these homes produce?

Collectively, we’ve made good progress on waste recovery. Recycling rates have increased from 10 percent in 1980 to 34 percent in 2012, the last year for which we have data. However, according to the EPA, the average person produces 4.5 pounds of trash every day, and there are areas with huge potential for improvement. Food waste is a big one. This category comprises 14.5 percent of all municipal solid waste (MSW), yet only 2 percent is diverted from the landfill. In fact, food waste makes up 20 percent of landfill mass.

Build It and They Will Compost

One solution is for people to compost their food scraps at home. Though of course you can’t force behavior, builders, designers and landscaping professionals can design in systems and functions that encourage occupants to start seeing one of their biggest waste streams as a resource for growing food or other plants:

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