January 28, 2015 · 0 Comments
By Mark Pavilons
Our planet was never designed to accommodate seven billion people. So, the onus is on all of us to ensure our sustainability.
When a piece of trash or organic garbage leaves our hands, it’s out of sight, out of mind.
We like to think of ourselves as green-savvy, environmentally friendly citizens, particularly here in King Township. But the reality is we’re lagging behind and we still don’t have an efficient system in this province for dealing with organic waste.
The earthworm is not pretty. But it’s likely the most efficient organic processor on the planet. It was designed that way.
And Kettleby’s Aladin Jarrah is betting that this creature will be humankind’s saviour, or at least our best partner in tackling our waste issues.
Jarrah, founding director in GreenScience, points to the harsh realities we face. Regardless of the municipal or regional waste diversion system, some 85% of organic waste still ends up in dumps. Several regions accept disposable diapers, animal waste, cat litter and meat packaging, all things that cannot be composted. With mixed stream recycling, many items become contaminated, forcing them to spend the remainder of their lives in landfill.
Jarrah contends there is no system that currently deals with our organic waste efficiently. The material is still transported large distances from the source, to either St. Thomas, Quebec or the United States. This pollution-producing system almost negates any positive achievements.
“There has to be a better way,” Jarrah observed, noting we need to mirror how nature does it.
And that’s where these tiny micro-processors – earthworms – come into the picture. Basically, worms move through the soil, eating bacteria off of decaying organic matter. The worm’s own waste is in the form of a casting – nature’s best fertilizer, containing a cornucopia of nutrients. The digestive process adds an array of biological organisms to the castings. These organisms include beneficial bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, pseudomonads, plant growth regulators, yeasts, and molds. As many as 10,000 different biological species are added to the soil, and these organisms provide mechanisms so plants can access needed nutrients.
It is the perfect recycling system.
To give the worms a home and newfound purpose, Jarrah helped design the GreenScience Organic Residuals Upgrader, which he calls the “Club Med” for worms. This unique device creates incredibly ideal conditions for the worms to do their work, at an accelerated pace. The conditions are so ideal, Jarrah said, that the worms are not only voracious, but quite happy living in the lap of luxury. The ORU, about the size of an office cubicle, can process one ton of waste per day, with no pollution, no carbon footprint, no odour and only using a minute amount of electricity.
While composting and benefits of worm castings have been known for decades, the new twist of the ORU is the efficiency of this compact, self-contained unit.
“It’s all about preserving nature’s cycle,” he said.
Jarrah has put his heart and soul, and every nickel of his savings, into this unit. He’s as passionate about the ORU as he is about one of his own children. The device, and model, is co clean, quiet and non-invasive that it works in any urban setting. The “model” includes setting up groups of these devices in almost any building, so waste is transported no more than five kilometres from the source. So, the waste is picked up locally, processed locally, and the castings-rich soil is sold locally.
That means a lot of units and Jarrah estimated it would take roughly 19 20-ton facilties to fully serve the City of Toronto.
The ideal customers are industrial-commercial-institutional waste producers – hospitals, food processing plants, etc.
The worms, through the ORU can effectively deal with biosolids, food waste and horse manure. The critters can even process the toxic sludge byproducts from methane-producing plants.
The castings are also used in “worm tea,” one of the best plant foods on the globe. Jarrah said this product is sprayed on your plants and prized flowers to rid them of harmful fungus and molds. A ton of castings is worth up to an estimated $7,000, he pointed out.
“What we have done is take a natural process and optimized it,” he said.
The process is so clean that it actually removes carbon dioxide from the planet. By helping to eliminate things like C02, processing a ton of organic waste actually creates “carbon credits.”
Jarrah noted a ton of waste is not a lot in the big picture. He said a typical large grocery store can generate a ton of organic waste per day.
“I’m shocked by the amount of waste we generate,” he said. “It’s not a sin; it’s life.”
The key is dealing with it.
Canada is home to wonderfully innovative, planet-loving people. But when it comes to innovative waste related technology, Canadian business culture has a propensity for low-risk, post-revenue investment. However, the company has raised some capital and has engaged the services of a prominent Toronto-based investment bank to raise the funds to construct the first full 20-ton-per-day factory. Based on existing contracts, the facility will operate at capacity upon opening and will turn a profit within four months. The applications are just so broad, and they’re only scratching the surface. It’s a model that can be repeated worldwide.
“We have a responsibility to blaze a trail,” he stressed. It’s not for fame or fortune, but rather to help preserve our generations to come.
Their system, Jarrah contends, is the ultimate solution for handling organic waste, and in fact, the ultimate solution for saving agriculture.
The worms are not pretty, but Jarrah sees the “poetry and grace” of the whole process.
He’s hoping others will see it, too.
It’s the ultimate win-win scenario.
To learn more, check out their website at www.greenscience.ca.