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Organic waste (cooked food waste, uncooked food waste and garden waste) can usually be used productively in composting.

However, in Kathmandu, where I am trying to find domestic solutions for organic waste, composting hasn't yielded much response from the public. It seems, after various discussions with people and organisations who have tried to promote composting in Kathmandu, that compost is not an incentive enough.

I am trying to find alternatives to composting. What other home organic waste management options are available?

Can organic waste be turned into fuel? Can it be converted into pet-food? Can it be integrated in the composition of bio-briquettes? Anything else?

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    What is the resistance to composting? – Jay Bazuzi Feb 1 '13 at 17:13
  • From what I gather: 1. people do not see enough value in compost in an urban setting, 2. in South Asia, handling food remains is associated negatively with religious impurity. – Benjamin Feb 1 '13 at 20:48
  • Who grows the food? Would they haul away food scraps as a service? – Jay Bazuzi Feb 2 '13 at 2:02
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    @JayBazuzi: it seems our discussion is going off topic (looking at social issues, rather than technical). You can mail me at jesuisbenjamin at gmail dot com. I'll tell you more. – Benjamin Feb 2 '13 at 6:40
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    @JayBazuzi, I think we all could benefit from this discussion in a chat. I am curious, for one. – theUg Feb 14 '13 at 18:31
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Things you could do with organic waste, other than composting:

  • For food and garden weeds/waste, most of this makes decent chicken food. If I dump a wheelbarrow of weeds from the garden into the chicken run, the girls go nuts -- similarly with a bucket of kitchen waste. They'll skip the stuff they don't like (e.g. banana peels), and you can rake this up when they're done to use for composting. (If you watch Back to Eden, there's a short segment about this practice. It's only a short bit of the film, but the rest of it is worth watching anyway.) Other animals will eat scraps like this too -- pigs, for example. (But do know your animals and avoid feeding anything that would be harmful!)
  • If you're getting resistance to simply managing a "proper" compost pile, you could switch to low-management forms of composting like trench composting. With this, you just dig a trench maybe 45-60cm deep and as long as appropriate. Fill the trench with your organic waste, starting at one end. When a section of the trench is filled to within 5-10cm of the top of the hole, cover with topsoil. Over time the waste will decompose and the trench will sink a bit -- you can dig another trench next to it and use the soil from the second trench to level out the first one.
  • Biogas digester, though this requires some up-front investment and some acquired skill in managing the equipment and handling the gas. I don't have direct experience with biogas, but I'd guess that this would work better on a community level.
  • Thanks. Do you know anything about converting organic waste into fish-food (ex. catfish)? – Benjamin Feb 1 '13 at 13:16
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    Sorry, I've never dealt with fish. That would make a good question on its own. – bstpierre Feb 1 '13 at 13:17
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As long as it doesn't get too cold, food waste can be turned into bio-gas. "Home" scale systems have been showing up in the last few years. E.g. The HomeBiogas Blog

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