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Why Is It so Hard to Compost Our Waste?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

composting food waste

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  • Composting conserves limited landfill space, reduces methane gas emissions and pulls carbon dioxide out of the air, sequestering it in the soil
  • Compost improves water retention, reduces chemical use, improves soil quality and structure and fights topsoil loss and erosion through adding valuable organic matter
  • A great deal of the U.S. food supply is wasted, including in school lunch programs, and most goes to landfills
  • South Korea and some communities in the U.S. are demonstrating that composting can be effective and economical
  • Anyone can easily compost with a box or a ready-made tumbling composter bin that can cost as little as $100

Food waste might be considered the stepchild of recycling. Conscientious people and even countries have embraced recycling as an urgent measure to stop environmental pollution, but the problem of food waste is often ignored. Yet, thrown-away food — as much as 40% of all food — is mostly dumped in landfills where it generates destructive methane emissions.

With a few exceptions, most governments have not invested in large-scale composting or biogas generation operations because that would require political consensus, and public investment and awareness of the problem have not become acute yet. But there is something individuals can do: compost.


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