Composting of Organic Materials and Recycling | Compost | Recycling

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Recycling and composting are waste management options, which should be considered as part of an overall waste management solution. However, during the early stages of an emergency these are unlikely to be appropriate and emphasis will on removing waste from areas where people are highly concentrated to avoid potential health and safety problems. After the immediate emergency period is over, an integrated and more sustainable approach to waste management should be considered. This is likely to include options for recycling and composting, which also has the benefit of creating livelihood opportunities for those affected by the emergency situation. This Technical Brief looks at what can be recycled and composted, and how to go about it.
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  Composting of Organic Materials and Recycling This Technical Brief looks what can be recycled and composted, and how to go about it. Introduction Recycling and composting are waste management options, which should be considered as part of an overall waste management solution. However, during the early stages of an emergency these are unlikely to be appropriate and emphasis will on removing waste from areas where people are highly concentrated to avoid potential health and safety problems. After the immediate emergency period is over, an integrated and more sustainable approach to waste management should be considered. This is likely to include options for recycling and composting, which also has the benefit of creating livelihood opportunities for those affected by the emergency situation. Public health engineers and public health promoters can start thinking about recycling and composting options early on. Discussion with communities and local authority representatives can start to ascertain whether any recycling markets previously existed and also whether there are recycling opportunities within the communities as they currently exist, e.g. recycling of bricks and timber to build new shelters. Waste Hierarchy There is a hierarchy of approaches to solid waste management that should be considered. However, effective solid waste management requires a balanced approach, which takes into account the specific context and the circumstances of those affected by the emergency. Under normal circumstances recycling and composting options should be considered after exploring options for waste reduction and reuse. Both recycling and composting are likely to be part of an integrated solution to waste management problems. Figure 1: Lampaya Oxfam recycling “shop” (courtesy of Mindy Wiemer) Case Study – Banda Aceh, Indonesia Following the Asian tsunami in December 2004 solidwaste management was a highly important issue, notonly in terms of keeping camp waste managed but alsoin clearing areas deluged by tsunami waste such asdestroyed buildings, vegetation, etc. Once the initialemergency phase drew to an end, it was clear that therewas significant opportunity both from a livelihoods andrecycling point for recycling of various constituents of waste in particular, building materials, glass, variousmetals, etc. Oxfam set up a pilot recycling project inLampaya, south Banda Aceh, which collected andutilised recycling markets, which existed prior to thetsunami. This included a “shop” which provided a marketplace for recyclable materials not be collected and soldelsewhere. An Information Officer was employed tofacilitate communications between Oxfam and the localcommunity, tools and supplies to lend in individualreconstruction efforts were also available. The waste hierarchy Waste Reduction & MinimisationWaste Reuse / Repair Recycling / Composting Landfill/Burial/Incineration OXFAM Technical Brief – Recycling and Composting 1  Fractions (Characteristics) of waste in emergencies Waste from settlements and refugee camps will vary widely in composition and quantity, according to the amount and type of economic activity, the staple foods consumed and local practices of recycling and/or waste disposal. Typical constituents of solid waste may include the following: ã Packaging from emergency supplies, e.g. plasticwater bottles, cardboard boxes, cans ã Waste containing excreta material, for example theflying latrine following the tsunami in Indonesiawhere faecal material was disposed of in plastic bags ã Organic waste and food waste ã Non-organic wastes, such as metals, glass andplastics ã Hazardous wastes such as asbestos (includingasbestos roof sheeting), chemicals, hydrocarbons,medicals wastes (including additional medical wastesassociated with emergency supplies), etc. ã Wastes generated from the disaster itself, such assludges, debris, bodies, etc (disaster waste is dealtwith a separate Technical Briefing Note (TBN 17)) Community Issues In identifying and developing recycling and composting options it is important to involve communities from the earliest possible stage. This can assist with identifying those who have previously been involved in the waste sector and have knowledge of existing recycling markets and also in identifying whether recycling and composting that is something that people have been involved with previously. As with all activities where community groups are consulted it will be important to obtain the views of different sections of the community who will have different needs. Men, women, children, those with particular or special needs should be consulted and considered separately. In undertaking recycling and composting activities, separation of waste at source will be important to success. Source separation involves waste being separated by those who generated it and is advantageous over separating later, as it avoids double handling and unnecessary transportation. Options for separation at source may include: ã a central location where people can bring theirrecyclable materials to sell which are then soldon to commercial recyclers; or ã recycling points on a camp by camp basis wherepeople separate the waste at their camps andthis is taken away by a central co-ordinator andsold to commercial recyclers.Determining the most appropriate option will be dependant on what people are familiar with doing, and whether there are already formal or informal recycling markets existing, and how accessible they are to the local population. To enable recycling and composting to take place successfully, communities will need understanding why it is important to separate waste and how they can do this in a practical way. The role of the public health promotion team will be crucial in understanding current practices, and in raising awareness of new issues related to better waste management practices. The roles of men, women and children in any potential recycling and composting activities should also be analysed, as these are likely to have a big impact on potential outputs. Identifying individuals to champion recycling and composting within the communities can assist with presenting messages and also linking the management of waste to broader health messages. Waste pickers In many communities individuals are involved in waste picking and selecting out waste items, which can be recycled and have a resale value. There may also be other individuals who have previously been involved in existing waste recycling markets. It will be important to identify these individuals and include them in any discussions and development of recycling options. Waste picking in some countries is only undertaken by certain groups in society and are likely to be part of marginalised groups. It may therefore be necessary to consult with this group separately to ensure that their voice is heard and represented in any decisions being made. It is important that any existing salvaging and waste picking is protected and an integral part of any new waste management system. Figure 2: Recycled Bricks Collected by the Local Community following the Asian tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. OXFAM Technical Brief – Recycling and Composting 2  Recycling What can be recycled? What can be recycled will depend on local recycling markets. Investigation will need to be undertaken of local recycling markets and commercial recyclers. This may have changed as a result of the emergency situation. In investigating the markets, it may be necessary to ascertain if certain markets are regional rather than local, in which case transportation and costs will need to be considered. Likely materials that can be recycled might include: glass, paper, textiles, bricks, aluminium, steel, and certain types of plastics, such as plastic bags, etc. Waste separation should be undertaken to facilitate recycling. Minimum separation should be into three categories: inorganic, organics and non-recyclables. The inorganics can then be further separated and sold onto commercial recyclers or informal waste purchasers. The organics can be composted. The remaining waste, which cannot be recycled or composted, should be dealt with either through landfilling or incineration (refer to Technical Reference Briefing Note (TBN 15)). Processing of recyclables prior to selling on Some form of processing of recyclables may be necessary prior to transportation or selling on the recyclables. This may include the following activities: ã Crushing: for aluminium, steel cans, etc. ã Shredding: of papers, cardboard, tyres, etc. ã Bailing of fibrous materials such as fabrics,cardboard, etc.Depending upon the facilities and technologies available all or some of these processing options will be viable. The processing of recyclables increases the density of the materials involved making them more efficient and economic to transport and resell. Figure 3: Local Prices for Recycled Materials in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Case Example – prices of recycled materials in Banda Aceh in 2005 following the Asian tsunami Case Example – Bangalore, India (courtesy of WEDC, Synthesis Note on Recognising livelihoods from urban waste) Market Buying Price of 1 kg of Used Material In Bangalore, India, there are a number of NGOs,which have worked with waste pickers over a longperiod. They have tried to incorporate pickers intoneighbourhood-based primary collection schemes andhave worked with the city corporation to developedintegrated approaches to solid waste management.For example, a Rag Pickers Education Scheme was setup which worked with waste picker street children andalso picker families to take responsibility for and reapthe benefits from collecting and selling waste fromprescribed residential and commercial areas, byhelping them negotiate and protect their interests andlivelihoods. Material Buying Price (Rupiah) Plastic –mix (i.e. drink bottles) 1,000 Soft Aluminium (i.e. soda can) 6,000  Aluminium –hard (i.e. roofing) 8,000 Iron800Batteries2,000Stainless steel 5,000 Plastic pipe (broken o.k.) 600 Cable (copper) and/or Brass 12,000 Case Example – Livelihoods from waste  (courtesy of WEDC, Synthesis Note on Recognising livelihoods from urban waste)   A number of livelihoods are derived from waste in low-income countries, which can be reinvigorated following an emergency situation. Dealers in waste materials are common everywhere, whether it is the second-hand merchant or scrap metal dealer. The two most common groups involved in these activities; waste pickers and street sweepers. Waste pickers separate re-saleable materials, such as paper, plastics, glass, to sell on in the recycling chain. Sweepers are involved with street cleaning and primary waste collection. It is possible to include and involve waste pickers and sweepers formally in waste collection and recycling activities. However, it needs to be recognised that these systems of waste collection depend on them remaining informal. In such circumstances an arm’s length relationship might be better than a full integration into a formal system. OXFAM Technical Brief – Recycling and Composting 3  Composting What can be composted? Composting is the biological decomposition and stabilisation of organic material, such as vegetable scraps, under aerobic conditions (in the presence of oxygen). Under the correct conditions of moisture and aeration, biological heat is generated and composting takes place. The composting period is followed by a period of stabilisation to produce a final product suitable for application to the land without adverse environmental effects.  Any organic material can potentially be composted. However, woody materials such as woodchips and paper take much longer to compost than fleshy materials such as vegetables and vegetable peelings. It will however, be useful to get a good balance between woody materials and fleshy organic material. Woody materials, such as woodchips, are important for keeping the structure of the compost open and allow air in; keeping the composting process aerobic, which speeds the process and keeps odours to a minimum. The flashy organic material will be the main matter to be composted. As wood chips don’t compost quickly these can sieved and reused for future composting if required. Faecal materials can be composted but this should not be considered in an emergency or post emergency environment due to the risk to health and safety, even if the process can be well managed. Even under controlled conditions, faecal material should be excluded from composting processes. Types of composting There are a number of different composting systems ranging from relatively low technology and low cost bin composters and windrows, to medium cost aerated static piles (ASPs), to highly technical, high cost reactor systems. Bin composters  – Compost bins are most suitable for use at a household or camp level to compost kitchen vegetable waste and garden cuttings. They may also be suitable for use in small communal environments, for example for composting communal kitchen vegetable waste. Compost bin can be bought purpose built or can be easily constructed utilising an ordinary household bin with holes penetrating the sides to enable air to circulate within the contained compost (Figure 1). A box compost container can also be constructed utilising wood planks to form a slatted box container.  Vegetable peelings and kitchen waste are added to the compost bin and left to “compost”. Woody and fibrous materials can be added, which assists with maintaining airflow through the compost but these materials will take longer to break down. One of the main problems with compost bins is that it can take a considerable period of time for the composting to take place (up to a year). Also restrictions in the amount of air in the system can lead to anaerobic conditions, which can create bad odours and attract flies and vermin. The most appropriate way of dealing with this is to turn the compost on a regular basis – initially twice a week to start with, but if the composting is drying out - less frequently. If the compost becomes smelly, – then turn more frequently. It may be more practical to cover fresh waste with a lid, which will reduce access to the compost by vermin as well as keeping out excessive rainwater, especially in a tropical climate. In an arid environment, a lid will help to stop the compost drying out. Wherever possible, a twin composting system is recommended. This involves utilising two compost bins: one compost bin which is in use and being filled with new vegetable waste; and another compost bin containing older “composting” waste is no longer being added to. This system has the advantage that the bin containing the composting material can be turned without new un-composted matter being further added and slowing down the overall composting process. Figure 1: Post tsunami compost bins, Sri Lanka (courtesy of Practical Action) Case Example – post emergency composting, Montserrat, West Indies Following the volcanic emergency in Montserrat, therewere significant problems associated with lack of fertility of land for growing vegetables and otherplants. A pilot-composting project was set up using abasic windrow composting. A double composter wasbuilt utilising waste timber from wooden crates usedto transportation of emergency/post emergencysupplies. One half of the composter was used to addnew organic material (organic kitchen waste,vegetable scraps, plant prunings where available, etc.)which was turned on a regular basis, whilst the otherhalf of the composter contained maturing compostwhich was then added to the ground as soil improverwhere plants and vegetables were to be grown. OXFAM Technical Brief – Recycling and Composting 4
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