Materials

Global alliance calls for ‘major step-change’ in organic waste recycling

A global alliance of organics recycling associations is urging world leaders to make COP26 a turning point in history for the recycling of food and garden waste.

A bin full of food wasteThe alliance says that every country, business, and person has a role to play in mitigating climate change by recycling their unavoidable food and garden waste into fertilisers and soil improvers, emphasising that action must be taken immediately to get the maximum benefits from these resources.

This can be achieved, the alliance states, by recycling these materials through garden, on-site or large-scale systems to create carbon-rich organic matter. This can then be returned to the soil, bringing benefits such as carbon storage, biodiversity, water conservation and food security. The alliance calls for immediate action to implement such systems.

The global alliance is comprised of The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA); The Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA); the Compost Council of Canada (CCC); the European Compost Network (ECN); the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA); the Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (CRÉ); the Waste Management Institute of New Zealand (WasteMINZ); The United States Composting Council (USCC), and The Compost Research and Education Foundation (CREF).

The alliance points to data from the World Bank, which finds that five per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2016 were generated from solid waste treatment and disposal, with food waste accounting for nearly 50 per cent of overall emissions. The recycling of unavoidable organic wastes, the alliance asserts, will lessen the material’s contribution to GHG emissions.

On behalf of the global alliance, Jenny Grant, Head of Organics and Natural Capital at the REA, said: “COP26 offers a turning point in history for the recycling of food and garden waste. Our global alliance is urging world leaders to use this unique opportunity to make a major step-change, by collectively agreeing to a major increase in the recycling of unavoidable food and garden waste back to soil as fertilisers and soil improvers.

“This can be achieved by recycling them through garden, on-site or large-scale systems to create valuable carbon-rich organic matter for return to our soils for carbon storage, biodiversity, water conservation and food security. With such a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions being generated from waste treatment and disposal, it’s crucial that an agreement is reached in Glasgow.

“With a decisive intervention, the recycling of unavoidable organic wastes is an immediate opportunity to help put the brakes on global temperature rises.”