BIOLOGICAL TREATMENT

WHAT IS BIOLOGICAL TREATMENT?

Materials that were once part of a living organism will slowly rot if the conditions are right. These are called “biodegradable” wastes. Composting and anaerobic digestion are methods of controlling (and speeding up) this decomposition process.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BIOLOGICALLY TREAT WASTE?

We have a major waste challenge in Ireland. We all produce too much waste – every Irish home produces over a tonne of waste each year. Biological Treatment, which includes processes such as composting and anaerobic digestion could be the first step to meeting this waste challenge.

Separating organic waste from dry recyclables (paper, card, plastic, etc.) is an important first step in the process of reducing Ireland’s dependence on landfills.

According to a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey, organic waste (i.e. food and garden waste) constitutes the single largest component of household waste, accounting for 36% of the total. When organic waste is mixed with other household waste, the combined waste becomes odourous, wet, and difficult to handle. Nor can it be recycled as the waste streams are mixed or contaminated. When organic waste goes into a landfill it begins to break down and creates methane (a significant greenhouse gas) and leachate (waste contaminated water), both of which require careful environmental management.