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Biowaste

Biodegradable organics comprise the major waste fraction generated in households worldwide (Diagram.1). Biowaste accounts for 30 % to 46 % of the total quantity of Municipal solid waste across Europe every year. More particularly, the quantity of Bio-waste produced in the EU from households is estimated at 118-138 Mt food and garden waste per year and 37 Mt of waste coming from the food and drink industry. They consist primarily of kitchen waste, and can comprise up to 50% (w/w) of the total household waste generated. This type of waste consists of a large amount of water content. The water content of food wastes varies significantly but may reach up to 80% (Position paper of the Bio-waste alliance., 2009)

Diagram 1: Municipal waste composition worldwide

(Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks., 2009)

 

This waste fraction is responsible for the production of the very dangerous for human health and global warming greenhouse gases. Αs an example, landfills seem to be the third–largest human–related source of methane in the U.S., accounting for 17% of all methane emissions in 2009 (Diagram.2).

Diagram 2: Methane emissions categorized by source (EPA., 2012)

Methane is generated in landfills due to waste decomposition because of the biological processes that take place due to its water content, mainly under anaerobic conditions. The amount of methane created depends mainly on the quantity of the water content of waste and the type of landfill biodegradable organics are being landfilled

On the other hand, in the EU methane production increased slowly from 8,6Mt in 1990 to 9,7 Mt in 2002 and then decreased slowly to reach 9,3 Mt in 2008. This stability, despite the decrease of waste landfilling, is believed to be caused due to the long duration of methane production (several decades after landfilling).

The Landfill Directive 1999/31/EC obliges Member States to reduce the amount of Bio-waste produced by 35% in the year 2016 from the 1995 levels, which is expected to significantly reduce the problem. This target is difficult to be achieved though, since there are different methods applied today in member states for biodegradable waste management. As a result the targets set cannot be achieved by all the EU countries because of the significant variations existing among the actual results coming from the EU waste management strategies.

The main methods used today for domestic treatment of food waste are household composting and household anaerobic digestion with household composting being the most widely used. Both of these methods face practical problems, such as the fact that they are complicated for people to practice and they produce disturbing odors, while in many cases, insects and larva pollute the households.

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Tuesday 11 September 2018, 14:21