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Re: [GreenYes] Composting at Apartment Complexes and Sink Disposals
I think things can be a bit more complicated.

Sink disposals have some advantages, among them you can put some bones (eg
poultry) through. Whether nutrients are wasted or not depends on what
happens downstream at the water treatment facility. Wastewater solids are
often reclaimed by composting or other processes and spread on agricultural
land. Some losses are inevitable, but all nutrients are not necessarily

Sink disposals are usually right at the point of production of kitchen
wastes. Much time is saved compared to  transporting compostables to another
destination, be it the compost pile or curbside collection. In a word,
disposals are convenient.

Indeed, by adding another bit of plumbing to your disposal you can recapture
the solids right away, for local composting. See the Kitchen Komposter

Lest you think I am an apologist for the garbage disposal, I am not. They
complicate plumbing substantially, are expensive, use electricity, and do
indeed lose nutrients while increasing the load on waste water treatment
plants and systems. The disposal collector I mention above is basically a
juicer for your drain, and lots of good stuff is lost in the process.

But people do like them, and with reasons. Always good to keep that in mind.

Apartment composting can be handled individually (The Urban/Suburban
Composter by Cullen and Johnson runs down the options for indoor and balcony
composting nicely) or collectively (both in the sense of social, and in the
sense that there is a collection process to be managed.)

Collective composting options run the gamut from simple bin composting, see
the City of Toronto's multi-bin units

All the way to more high tech vermicomposting and composting systems, see
for example

On site composting offers substantial savings in transport miles, as the
volume and weight of the compostables is substantially reduced in the
composting process. Export of at least some of the compost is likely
advisable, since most apartments don't have a land base to support ongoing
use of all of their own compost on a sustainable basis, but some of it can
and should be used on site as well.

Finally, off site composting is another option. Where space or other factors
prevent on site composting, source separated organics can be taken to a
(preferably) nearby composting site for processing.

All composting options require management and labor inputs. Tenants will
need to be educated concerning the specific source separation needs of the
chosen system. Many apartment complexes may generate enough clean paper
waste to balance the food scraps in terms of C:N and moisture, but some
importation of carbon sources and bulking agents may be needed.

Improperly done, composting can cause odor problems, attract pests, fail to
achieve necessary processing speeds, and fail to produce a healthy product.
Collective composting projects thus need to be handled with care, with on
site urban settings being particularly sensitive to system failure

With proper thought and preparation, urban composting projects can succeed.
The process begins, as so many do, with education.

Frank Teuton

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: "Green Yes&quf, t<>; "Stephan Pollard" <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 4:35 AM
Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Composting at Apartment Complexes and Sink Disposals

> On 26 Feb 2002 at 12:16, Stephan Pollard wrote:> I'm wondering if anyone
can direct
> me to research and discussion on
> > composting at apartment complexes.  Also, what's the word on the
> > costs-benefits of food waste disposal through the use of sink
> > disposals (ultimately waste water treatment plants) versus composting?
> Hi there, Stephan...
> Strangely enough, I had this discussion (sink disposal vs composting) with
a close life
> long friend from the US recently, who cam to visit after some time..
> for me, the issue is not difficult:
> by composting, we are re-using the nutrients, and diverting the waste;
> the sink disposal of course does not do that, but also creates problems
for the
> purification of the water "downstrem" in the process, with the rotting
material reducing
> the oxygen levels in the water, whether the water will be re-used or
> hope that helps!
> kind regards
> Muna
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