Counting Compost Carbon

Counting Compost Carbon

It’s hard to try something new and even harder to keep going. This is especially true with lifestyle sustainability changes. What does your cycling to work do for the planet? How much is cutting out meat from your diet worth? Staying motivated to do these things with absolutely no reward can be tough.

Not so much with composting though. With a bit of number magic you can figure out exactly how much offset your composting has on the world based on a few key areas.

Recycling Organic Waste

When organic waste goes to landfill, it produces carbon equivalent emissions that are tonne-for-tonne with the amount of waste (though some sources claim more). The average Australian produces over two tonnes of waste a year of which around 60% could be composted. That’s 1,200kgs of emissions every year you’ve saved from going into the atmosphere.

What’s more, this isn’t even including the pollution and emissions that result from landfill leachate, maintenance operations, waste collection and so many other sources along the journey.

It does unfortunately have one little caveat - you have to be doing it right. If you’re not composting properly with a balanced, aerated pile, you’re pretty much just building up a mini-landfill that’s going to be leaking out just as much methane.

Replacing Artificial Fertiliser

This one is harder to determine for a couple of reasons. If you’re a regular reader, you know that the end product of compost is an amazing organic fertiliser that can be used to replace artificial ones. This is pretty important since artificial fertilisers are a non-renewable resource, highly polluting and responsible for a major chunk of global emissions.

Artificial fertilisers are used prolifically and unless you’re only getting certified organic food, everything you eat has likely seen the stuff. In fact, every year, almost 200 million tonnes of artificial fertilisers are used but fortunately over 700 million tonnes of organic waste is produced as well. Composting this organic waste offers a viable replacement.

Unless you’re usually buying artificial fertiliser that you’re replacing with your compost though, it’s a little too complicated to claim carbon off this one. For right now, you’ll just have to enjoy the knowledge that you’re taking down the fertilised industry one compost batch at a time.

Sequestering Carbon

This is a big one and it’s only growing. As we wrote about last week, compost sucks carbon right out of the air and holds it in a stable form in a process called carbon sequestration. So once you’ve spread your finished product in the garden, how much is it holding?

Estimates vary, with new research increasing the total amount, but it currently stands at almost 250kgs per tonne of compost. That’s massive but returning that carbon to the ground also improves overall soil health, reduces the need for watering and encourages plant growth.

There are a whole bunch of other areas that -composting offsets but these are definitely the big three. What do all these amounts mean though?

Well for the average person producing 1,200kgs of organic waste a year, you’re creating an emissions reduction of at least 1,500kgs just through composting. That’s the equivalent of:

  • 5,950km driven
  • 20% of your annual power consumption
  • 195,000 smartphones charged
  • 25 trees planted (and left in the ground)

Considering all the other emissions our lives emit that we can’t avoid, compost is an incredibly easy way to minimise and offset them. Compared to other options as well (buying a Tesla anyone?) it’s an affordable and accessible change that everyone can make.

Now all these numbers and calculations were pretty rough, which is why we’re building this functionality into our monitoring system. Based on the real-time environmental data our device collects, we’ll be able to give you your exact compost offset and what it means. Make sure you’ve subscribed and are following our socials - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn - to get the latest updates on development!

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