Monday, April 30, 2012

Reaping benefits from organic waste

THREE years ago, I found out how to make garbage enzyme by fermenting kitchen waste. Someone had sent me a link to an online story about a chap who made garbage enzyme from kitchen waste.

According to the story, one of the by-products of making garbage enzyme is ozone.

The enzyme maker said that if all households worldwide were to make garbage enzyme, we would be able to replenish the depleting ozone layer.

However, what attracted me to garbage enzyme at that time was more than ozone production.

I was interested because I had also read that garbage enzyme could be an effective alternative to cleaning detergent, especially for cleaning toilet bowls, the bathroom walls and floors.

I was getting tired of using pricey chemicals that seemed to lose their effectiveness once the products became too popular.

At that time, I had also found out from my neighbour Simon that his wife had been making garbage enzyme for household use.

One evening when I visited them, I had commented about how white their marble floor looked. Simon's wife told me that she had used liquid from fermented pineapple peels.

By fermenting pineapple peels in a solution of brown sugar, the resulting enzyme when used for cleaning the floors, she said, would not only give their marble floor a shine but also make it look whiter.

I was convinced.

My first venture was lime peel enzyme - made by fermenting lime peels I had collected from a drinks stall near the office.

Two kilos of lime peels fermented in 10 litres of brown sugar solution over three months provided me with enough enzyme for over four months.

My cost was less than RM10 for a bag of brown sugar. The enzyme, when diluted with water, not only cleaned the floor of my condo's corridor better than bleaching agents but it left a lovely lime scent.

I also found that there were fewer ants there these days.

Last week, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) became the first local council in the country to venture into turning market waste into fertiliser and fuel, through vermicomposting and anaerobic digestion processes, respectively.

The project between MPSJ, Universiti Putra Malaysia and traders being undertaken at Taman Sri Serdang market is part of the Serdang Green Town programme launched last month.

Vermicomposting uses earthworms to turn vegetables, meat and other perishable wastes into organic fertiliser while anaerobic digestion uses microorganisms under little or no oxygen conditions to break down wastes and produce energy.

Similar to the making of garbage enzyme, vermicomposting and anaerobic digestion are friendlier means to get rid of organic wastes.

According to the news report, MPSJ's effort will help reduce two tonnes of organic waste at Taman Sri Serdang market daily.

The organic fertiliser generated from the vermicompost will be shared between the council and the traders while the biogas produced from anaerobic digestion will be used to power the market's generator set.

I wish other councils will take the cue from the MPSJ to do their bit for the environment. Market wastes often end up choking the drains, or if dumped at landfills, generate more greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

By using vermicompost or anaerobic digestion to deal with such wastes, local councils not only save on having to buy fertilisers for their parks and nurseries, they can also save themselves the headache of looking for landfills and clearing choked drains.

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