As a SNRE graduate, this article stuck out to me. Back the 1990's an orange juice company in Costa Rica dumped 12,000 tons of orange peels and pulp on barren land. It was done not only to dispose of it but as a means of restoring the land. Two decades later ecologists visited the area and saw that it was now a lush, verdant jungle. Meanwhile land immediately adjacent to the dump site remained as pastureland. It should be no surprise to anyone that adding organic matter to soil results in richer soil, but what is somewhat surprising is that the author seems to be suggesting this as a method for food waste disposal and ecosystem restoration. While it was certainly effective in restoring the forest, I can't help but think of a number of potential negative impacts open-dumping 12,000 tons of orange peels could have. The picture in the article of the piles of orange peels speaks volumes. As this waste decomposed, surely there was significant anaerobic decomposition, creating methane emissions. Also, the runoff from these piles could cause significant pollution in surrounding waterways. Not to mention the odors. While I applaud the company and ecologists for using a waste product to restore forestland, and obviously their goal worked, I wonder if the ends justified the means. As a better solution, composting or digesting these wastes, even minimally, prior to land application could have similar (or better) results without potentially causing these other issues.
Have a great weekend,
12,000 tons of food waste transformed a barren landscape into something surprising
August 29, 2017