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VERMICOMPOSTING. Background & Life Cycle Analysis. Sean Brandt 23 April 2001. ~. ~. ~. Vermicompost System. ~. ~. VERMICOMPOSTING DEFINITION.

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vermicomposting

VERMICOMPOSTING

Background &

Life Cycle Analysis

Sean Brandt

23 April 2001

vermicomposting definition

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Vermicompost System

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VERMICOMPOSTING DEFINITION

Vermicomposting is the process of creating reasonably odorless compost by red worms feeding on microorganisms that degrade organic matter such as food waste. The worm castings (excrement) are nutrient-rich in usable forms for plants, and therefore make excellent fertilizer.

INPUT

OUTPUT

closing the loop

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INPUT

Vermicompost System

OUTPUT

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CLOSING THE LOOP

microorganisms, worms

plastic

wood

AGRICULTURE

vermicomposting sizes
VERMICOMPOSTING “SIZES”
  • Small – individual, home
  • Medium – small community or business
  • Large – large community or industry
basic designs of vermicomposting
BASIC DESIGNS OF VERMICOMPOSTING
  • Simple box
  • Lateral movement
  • Stackable tray
  • Continuous flow
small scale vermicomposting personal responsibility
SMALL-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTINGPersonal Responsibility
  • Input – personal/family food waste, some lawn and gardening waste
  • System – small bin in basement, backyard
  • Output – fertilizer for own garden
  • Sustainable? – depends primarily on the bin, since “closed the loop” for some of own waste
small scale vermicomposting
SMALL-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTING
  • Simple Box
  • Worm-A-Way (wormwoman)
  • 100% recycled plastic
  • Simple Box
  • Little Worm Farm Kit
  • Wooden
small scale vermicomposting1
SMALL-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTING
  • Stackable tray
  • Wriggly Wranch
  • 100% recycled plastic
  • Continuous flow
  • Earth Factory
  • Recycled plastic sides; steel frame; recycled redwood lid
small scale vermicomposting2
SMALL-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTING
  • Lateral movement
  • Wormaroo
medium scale vermicomposting small community responsibility
MEDIUM-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTING(Small) Community Responsibility
  • Input – community/business food waste, lawn and gardening waste
  • System – large bins with different design needs than small bins
  • Output – fertilizer for crops
  • Sustainable? – again, depends primarily on the bin
medium scale vermicomposting
MEDIUM-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTING
  • Continuous Flow
  • EPM Institutional Bin
large scale vermicomposting large community responsibility
LARGE-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTING(Large) Community Responsibility
  • Input – food waste, agricultural waste, paper waste, municipal solid waste
  • System – large bins; troughs; ground surface overlay
  • Output – fertilizer for crops
  • Sustainable? – depends on the bin (site-specific); also transportation cost gains
generic description of vermicomposting systems
GENERIC DESCRIPTION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS
  • Input – food waste, lawn and garden waste, paper waste, farm animal & human excrement
  • System – wooden/plastic boxes, cement troughs, direct ground overlay; microorganisms and red worms on damp bedding
  • Output – worm castings used as fertilizer (1/10th tonnage, 30% increased yield), “tea” (separation of liquids and solids)
  • Sustainable? – yes, for the most part (consider consumption and disposal); gains still possible in system design
green consideration of vermicomposting systems1
GREEN CONSIDERATION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS

SYSTEM = CONTAINER + “NATURE”

green consideration of vermicomposting systems2
GREEN CONSIDERATION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS

SYSTEM: CONTAINER

Basic design considerations

Size: 1 ft3 space/lb “food” per week

Temperature: 32 ºF < T < 85 ºF

Ventilation/Drainage holes

Green design considerations

Recycled/Recyclable/Reusable

Packaging (commercial, shipping)

Source reduction: no container

green consideration of vermicomposting systems3
GREEN CONSIDERATION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS

SYSTEM: CONTAINER

Wooden Bins

  • reused wood
  • no chemical sealants
  • natural decomposition
green consideration of vermicomposting systems4
GREEN CONSIDERATION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS

SYSTEM: CONTAINER

Plastic Bins

  • % recycled content
  • thermoplastic plastic vs. thermoset plastic
  • forming process
  • packaging waste
  • lasts for generations
green consideration of vermicomposting systems5
GREEN CONSIDERATION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS

SYSTEM: CONTAINER

Ground Overlay

  • no packaging!
  • pile up different resources, let worms do work
  • aesthetically pleasing if covered
  • natural decomposition
green consideration of vermicomposting systems6
GREEN CONSIDERATION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS

SYSTEM: CONTAINER

Cement Troughs

  • recycled ash (from power generation) content
  • transportation, packaging of cement
  • crush & reuse as aggregate
green consideration of vermicomposting systems7
GREEN CONSIDERATION OF VERMICOMPOSTING SYSTEMS

SYSTEM: “NATURE”

  • Native worm species
  • Home-grown worms
  • “Soil foodweb”
  • Ecosystem food chain
  • Bedding
summary and conclusions
Summary and Conclusions
  • Simple, effective
  • Contributes to sustainability by reducing landfilling, closing loop from food chain
  • Improvements can be made in containers and packaging (wood vs. thermoplastics vs. no container)
  • Future – Tax on garbage, personal bins provided? Subsidy for compost? Another bin for curbside collection? Living machines?