How Can We Better Manage the Food We Throw Away? GORE Cover Technology May Have the Answer
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 95% of our food waste ends up in the landfill (1). By reducing wasted food, we can save money as well as contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions. The decomposition of our food waste creates methane, which may seem less innocuous than carbon dioxide, but its global warming potential is 34 times greater than the latter (2).
How can we better manage the food we throw away? Composting can close the loop of waste management. However, composting the traditional way in a typical backyard pile could potentially take months or up to more than a year. Some composting facilities have adopted the GORE® Cover Technology, which is a system that controls the release of odors and greenhouse gases from the decomposition process.
GORE Cover Technology, a large cover that is sealed over the compost piles, has an input volume range from as little as 2,000 to more than 200,000 tons per year. It can be used to process a variety of green waste, food waste, biosolids or municipal solid waste (MSW)3. Due to its ability to trap odor and moisture, the cover can accelerate the composting process, converting waste to compost in eight weeks, with the aid of an in-floor aeration process 4.
The GORE Cover is both cost-effective in installation and maintenance. It can ultimately accelerate the decomposition process to potentially produce high-quality compost, create a return on investment, and reduce operational cost. It has been approved and utilized in more than 150 composting facilities and more than 20 countries 3.
A single GORE Cover costs about $75,000 and covers one ‘heap.’ A standard heap is 26 feet (8m) wide at the base, 165 feet (50m) long and 10-12 feet (3 – 3.5m) in height. Each heap contains approximately 1,000-1,200 cubic yards of composting material 5.
Table: Capital Cost Outline for a 40,000 ton/year (16 covered aerated piles) GORE Cover composting plant 6. This figure derives from a study by Columbia University conducted in 2009.
Below are some GORE Cover projects throughout the US that highlight the variety in size and intake each composting facility holds, as well as the estimated capital costs of the project.
*GORE was implemented in the Miramar Greenery composting facility for an eight-month pilot project in 2009, which consisted of two windrows of compost. The facility itself is 74 acres and can process up to 250,000 tons of organic waste per year.
*wtpy = waste tons per year
The GORE Cover Technology is available for purchase from multiple suppliers throughout the country.
6 Rob van Haaren. “Large scale aerobic composting of source separated organic wastes: A comparative study of environmental impacts, costs, and contextual effects.” Department of Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, August 2009. Web.