We’re heading into the most wonderful time of the year but, unfortunately, it’s also the most wasteful time of year. Here in the UK we will throw away 54 million platefuls of food during December and buy eight million real Christmas trees.
But what happens to them in January when the pine needles are shedding like crazy and we can’t stomach any more leftover turkey curry?
Here at TW Composting we support local authorities and businesses, so when your green and food waste gets picked up by your council it comes to sites like ours. We currently process more than 90,000 tonnes of food and green waste per year that could otherwise have ended up in landfill and turn it into something useful – soil improver that can go back onto your garden to help grow new things.
This Christmas we’re getting ready for a mass influx of Christmas trees in January and extremely high amounts of food waste over the whole festive period. But how do we turn that back into a useful product?
The industrial composting process itself is like home composting but on a much larger scale. For green waste, we use a technique called Open Windrow Composting (OWC) – where the organic material is shredded then laid out in ‘windrows’ (long lines) to break down and produce compost. This takes about six weeks.
For co-mingled food and green waste, In-Vessel Composting (IVC) is used to sanitise the material and kill off any bugs in a temperature-controlled environment first, before it follows a similar process to OWC.
Although we’ve got the end of the process covered, on the hierarchy of waste the best option is to prevent it completely. So when it comes to having a merry but less wasteful Christmas, here are a few things that you can do:
- Help us do our bit. If you do buy a real tree, make sure it gets to a recycling centre so it can be made into the good stuff. You can check if your council does a curbside collection online or find the best place to drop it off (you might find the odd pine needle in your car for the next few weeks but it’s worth it, trust me). If all eight million UK trees were recycled that would save 12,000 tonnes of waste from landfill or being fly tipped.
- Buy locally. If you’re buying a tree, look for one that is locally produced, or at least grown in the UK with an FSC certification to avoid emissions from transporting and importing. This also means it will be fresher for longer as it can be cut down later.
- Think quality not quantity. Think about what and how much you need, especially when it comes to the dinner table. But make sure that any offcuts you do have are rehomed in your food waste caddy.
I hope that gives you some food for thought and a bit more insight into where your green waste could end up once the time for listening to ‘All I want for Christmas…’ has come to an end.