Composting without Compromising

6 May, 20

With the nations digging their fingers into their gardens, making sustainable choices that will benefit the planet has never been more important. With the strong relationship between nature and its positive effect on the human psyche, enjoying time in green space can really benefit us as people during this pandemic.

The current restricted access to our wider environment has turned many towards cultivating their own garden, a fact highlighted by the 30% increase in demand for Veolia’s peat free gardening products. This demand has been further heightened by the recognition of the impact of climate change on our immediate lives, and has driven horticulturalists and the public alike to call for more environmental compost. A wet winter this year limited the production of traditional carbon intensive organic amendments. As the nation’s largest composter, producing over 250,000 tonnes per year (the equivalent to circa 12 million bags), Veolia has been able to keep a steady flow of Pro-Grow compost reaching customers, ensuring they can continue to keep their gardens green.

At the same time this peat free approach will help to preserve ecologically important peatlands, natural carbon stores, estimated to contain around 584 million tonnes of carbon in England alone. If this were all lost it would be equivalent to 2.14 billion tonnes of CO2, which is around five years of England’s total annual CO2 emissions. Peatlands are being drained at breakneck speed in the UK – up to 94% have already been excavated with no sign of slowing down. As well as our own reserves being impacted we also import millions of tonnes of peat from overseas, making us culpable for peat devastation beyond our borders. The displacement of peat with green organic, recycled compost and other sustainable organic materials is the right direction of travel for sustainable cities, and achieving net zero carbon.

Composting helps to significantly reduce carbon emissions and can be used as an effective and sustainable waste management method to reduce the amount of waste ending up in household bins and contributes to carbon sequestration. With more people at home there has also been an increase in household waste which is a prime source of compostable materials. In fact more than 30% of the average household waste can be composted; including peelings, eggshells, egg boxes, coffee granules, tea bags, fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings and lots more. Added to this is the green waste from gardens, and commercial green waste including leaves, cuttings and grass from public spaces and streets – sources which provide nearly half a million tonnes of compostable materials each year.

Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for Veolia UK & Ireland says,

“Every individual now has the time to devote to the planet – not just thinking about the plants you grow, but how you grow them. We have recognised that we have a real opportunity to make a huge impact in the communities where we are based, and to resident’s lives.

“As recyclers we know we must also endorse sustainable production without substituting quality or price. By doing this we can help minimise impact on the natural world while providing an unrivalled nutrients for plants or crops – a straightforward way for anyone working with the land to help preserve it.

“Caring about the planet has become an economic benefit as well meaning its the way forward to recover our economy whilst ensuring we don’t have any more natural disasters.”

To counter the loss of peatlands Veolia has invested over £1million in projects focused on the restoration of the UKs peat bogs over the last year. This covered projects which will help conserve our peatland bogs that provide over a quarter of the country’s drinking water and supply a unique and diverse habitat for wildlife.

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