Written by: on July 13, 2020 @ 6:00 am

We tons and tons of trash. People across the world create 3.5 million tons of waste each day; the average U.S. citizens creates around 4.4 pounds of trash every day. While we mostly think of waste in the sense of plastic packaging and old things we no longer need, there are a few different types of waste we all create. These types of waste include; liquid waste, the dirty water flushed down the drain after you shower, organic waste, food, garden waste, manure and rotten meat, hazardous waste, all things flammable and toxic, our recyclables, and solid waste. While reducing waste streams like liquid and hazardous waste are extremely complex, we can all help to address our organic waste problem.

It is estimated that about a third of the world’s food is wasted every year. Food waste is often due to food not being optimal in shape, size or color, foods being discarded just before expiration, and households or restaurants disposing of unused or leftover food. Food waste accounts for 70 million tons of the waste produced by the United States each year. While unnecessary food waste is a contributes to our organic waste problem, other factors of organic waste include livestock manure, agricultural waste, and inedible food waste like vegetable scraps and peels. If organic waste is improperly managed, it can contaminate water, cause algal blooms, and harm wildlife. For the safety of the environment, we must solve our organic waste problem.

As organic waste begins to decompose, it produces large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas with roughly 30 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. Around 60% of all global methane being emitted from human activity. Coal mining, manure management, landfills and incineration, oil and gas systems, and ruminant animals all contribute to our methane production.  To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the risk of pollution to the environment, our organic waste can be converted into biogas, a renewable energy source. Biogas is used to replace fossil fuels, creating further emission reductions and even can create carbon negative systems! Biogas is an amazing solution to our organic waste problem and helps to lessen our dependence on finite fossil fuels.

The United States currently only has 2,200 operating biogas systems, with support for biogas fund allocation dissipating under the current administration.  Biogas is a cost effective, environmentally friendly alternative to our waste, fossil fuel and methane footprint. While many of us don’t have the capability to create biofuel systems ourselves, we can advocate for Farm Bills helping to fund biofuel development!

Want to see biofuel in action? You can do our Bionic Biogas experiment! Find that experiment by visiting: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/bionic_biogas.pdf

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