Is composting good or bad for the environment?
We outline each side of that question in this short guide.
Summary – Is Composting Better Or Worse For The Environment?
Overall, aerobic composting is seen as a net positive for the environment.
What should be noted is that different composting conditions can lead to different environmental side effects (such as more, or less, GHGs and other emissions).
Also, only some types of waste can be composted – mostly organic waste.
How Composting Can Be Good For The Environment
Aerobic composting is generally seen as a more eco friendly waste management option compared to landfill and incineration
Instead of organic matter being sent to landfill and decomposing anaerobically and emitting methane gas, it can decompose aerobically in compost where methane gas isn’t an environmental problem
Compost mix used as a fertilizer decreases the need for synthetic fertilizer
Compost mix fertilizer can improve soil health and also soil water retention (also decreasing the water footprint of agricultural activities).
So, composting can save resources
How Composting Can Be Bad For The Environment
One way composting can be bad for the environment is if the wrong organic matter is put into the compost mix, and the compost mix turns out to be contaminated.
This issue is compounded if a contaminated compost mix is spread on soil and impact soil health
You could also argue that at the commercial and industrial level – separate compost collection trucks and compost sites add to the environmental footprint overall for composting (burning of fuel for vehicles, use of land for compost sites + other resources)
For those that use residential compost bins – some people use bin liners in them to prevent dirty bins and also smells.
This might increase plastic waste as a result if people are changing bin liners over frequently and not washing the same bin liner
Anaerobic composting can produce the negative environmental effect of methane emissions
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