Recycling and composting are two terms heard often in the green space as environmentally efficient ways to handle waste. The question to ask is what is the difference and what are the benefits of each?
Of course, reusing items and reducing consumption are ideal first steps, recycling and composting are techniques used to reduce the waste sent to landfills. The main difference between the two is the nature of the materials they consist of- either manufactured or organic matter.
Composting is a great alternative to sending food and other organic materials to the landfill where they break down inefficiently. According to the EPA, “organic waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting wasted food and other organics, methane emissions are significantly reduced.” Compost is a combination of food scraps and organic matter decomposing in the right conditions into a useful nutrient for soil. Successful composting requires a 3:1 balance of Brown (Carbon) to Green (Nitrogen) material. Brown materials can include dry leaves, shredded newspaper or hay. Green materials can include food scraps and grass trimmings. Some cities and towns offer compost pickup, or you can have your own compost bin in your backyard.
Recycling is a much more common practice with an established economic industry behind it. It is the process of taking manufactured materials, breaking them down into raw materials and converting them into new products instead of sending them to a landfill. According to the EPA, recycling “prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials.” Recycling requirements have changed over the years which makes it simpler for you to take part. This is also a process that can be done on an individual basis or through municipalities.
Overall both recycling and composting are beneficial to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills each year.