Planning, starting, optimising separate collection of organics: approaches and results (including city centres)

Separate collection of organics is a key part of schemes to achieve highest rates of recovery of materials. Also, it allows recovery of clean organic resources, which are then suitable for application onto farmlands, thereby causing multiple beneficial effects as
- locking C in soils (which helps tackling climate change)
- fighting desertification and erosion
- reducing use of mineral fertilisers (and eutrophication that may occur in sensitive areas and wetlands)
- preventing pathogens thanks to the suppressive power (which reduces use of pesticides), etc.

On account of its multiple beneficial implications, separate collection of organics has been tabled in many local and international regulatory provisions, with drivers in the form of mandatory separate collection programmes (e.g. in the Netherlands and Austria) or bans on landfilling (fairly common in North America) or targets (specific targets for biowaste, as e.g. in Sweden, or general separate collection targets that also boost separate collection of organics, as e.g. in the UK and Italy).

Typically, separate collection of garden waste is considered a comparatively easy scheme to be implemented (by means of bring systems or dedicated collection rounds) while separate collection of food scraps is regarded as an option showing multiple challenging operational implications, on account of the putrescible nature of materials that are targeted. Hence, in the common perception of waste contractors and local planners / decision-makers, separate collection of food scraps is deemed to be suitable for sparsely populated areas only (villages and small Municipalities, residential outskirts in cities) not for the densely populated city centres and high-rise buildings (notably, separate collection of biowaste will become mandatory everywhere from 2015 in Germany, which is propelling interest in solutions to tackle also the city centres).

However, operational experience has been gained and consolidated in last 20+ years, which provides plenty of evidence and information on the following:

- kerbside schemes collecting also organics (and notably, food scraps) may work everywhere, including South Europe: wide implementation is e.g. currently detected in Spain (Catalonia and Basque Country) while 34 million people (60% of the population) are currently covered by separate collection of food scraps in Italy

- many schemes, and notably those from Southern Europe, are showing the possibility to tackle separate collection of food waste also in the densely populated city centres: Milan (1.4 M people) is already covering 100% of its population with more than satisfactory results both in terms of quantity and quality

- the need to make the system user-friendly is key: maximised participation and capture, besides boosting recycling rates, may also minimise percentages of organics in residual waste, thereby making it possible a reduction of collection rounds for residual waste, which is a key factor for cost-optimisation of schemes 

- customer satisfaction analyses tell us that well designed schemes gain wide support by households and large producers.

The presentation will dwell on operational expertise of the presenter, who took part in the design and roll out of many ground-breaking schemes, and will provide such evidence, elaborating on key issues to be considered when designing and rolling out a separate collection scheme; particular emphasis will be given to schemes tackling food scraps and related results, so that the new challenges posed by the ongoing revision of the EU Waste Policy be tackled with confidence, and successful results be achieved.

Copyright: © European Compost Network ECN e.V.
Quelle: Orbit 2014 (Juni 2014)
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Autor: Dr. Enzo Favoino

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