Organic waste management across the world

By Priya Chetty on July 15, 2016

Organic waste often referred to as ‘green’ waste actually is that type of waste which originates from unprocessed and untreated materials such as food products, garden materials and lawn trimmings (Chernicharo, 2003). Organic waste commonly contains disposed biodegradable items scheduled to undergo further molecular breakage of carbon dioxide, methane gas or water. The basic elements that can be taken out from these organic biodegradable wastes are some microorganisms and other parasitic living appendage.

Various researches have proved that a common source for biodegradable waste is primarily the municipal solid waste; others being human waste, manure dirt and disposals derived from slaughterhouse. In present days, most of the developed parts of the world usually separate these organic wastes from the inorganic waste, i.e. non-biodegradable/non-recyclable waste. This article would cover three main areas regarding maintaining and managing organic waste. First, how the major continents administer their lot of organic waste, secondly, the amount and quantity of waste to be recycled, dumped and exported, and lastly the technology to recycle the disposed organic waste.

Organic waste management in Spain

According to a recent report published by The International Training Course on Organics Management in Spain, the issue of organic division of waste materials has been given considerable attention in recent years (ZeroWaste Europe, 2014). The waste is supposed to be mended, collected and treated accordingly. The key motto of this training course was to equip policy beholders, management industry of waste handling  and relevant knowledge on organic waste disposal. The training programme stressed that countries build better facilities as only packaging and recycling the wastes are not enough to pacify its processes. To make a country/continent a ‘zero waste’ zone, a separate collection scheme is required. On the other hand, another report by UN- Habitat on solid managing and maintaining solid organic waste explains the process of maintenance and disposal of organic waste. According to the report, the installation of incinerator plants is becoming an effective way to get rid of organic wastes but installing incinerators has been an issue of debate because they emit a huge amount of heat which can in turn be harmful for the environment. Apart from this another collection process of organic waste which is said to be the most effective and efficient way of generating awareness is the door-to-door method of collection where appointed personnel visit every residence to collect residual organic waste (Environmental restoration and waste management, 1992).

Recycling process in Columbo, Denmark and Netherlands

The methods of processing organic waste include three major procedures which are:

  1. Soil improvement,
  2. Scientific raising of animals and
  3. Recycling use of biodegradable elements in order to produce energy.

Developing countries like Sri Lanka have adopted an extraordinary method of re-compositing garbage on a medium scale production. The waste and organic disposals are mainly generated from vegetable markets in Colombo. There are four floating dome digesters that have been installed with a capacity of 40 tonnes of dry waste per month.

Denmark, which has been termed as the greenest city of the world has shifted its views from traditional incineration to transform itself into a zero waste country. To elaborate the statement it may be said that almost every city in Denmark has its own publicly owned incinerators. If the amount of waste is less the inhabitants tend to reuse and recycle it, only a huge amount of waste is commonly sent for burning. Netherlands on the other hand focuses its attention while mending its organic waste to recycling goods more. By 2009, Netherlands achieved its target of recycling 50% of total organic waste produced in the country, 11 years ahead of schedule (OECD, 2015).

Policies and framework for waste management in developed countries

European countries used to export their waste products in sub-tropical countries like India making them a huge dumping ground until they initiated their own waste controlling measurements and polices (Lens, 2004). The policies of different developed countries in dealing with organic waste management are reviewed below.

  • Netherlands had introduced in 1995 a law on prohibiting landfill which covered around thirty five different waste categories. To reduce the quantities of municipal solid waste (MSW) there have been a policy of landfill tax as well. In 2015, Netherlands launched the policy of National Waste Management Plan with an agenda to increase the amounts of the recycling of household wastes up to 60%.
  • According to the national policies of municipal waste management issued in 2009, Denmark was declared to achieve almost 50% of recycling programs installed. The other important policies being the landfill ban, incineration tax and various schemes of organic waste collection.
  • USA has passed the law of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to reduce its municipal solid wastes. To regulate the generations and disposals of wastes USA creates regulatory bodies such as United States Environmental Protection agency and United States Department of Transportation. In USA organic wastes are mainly managed through composting, anaerobic digestion and land filling. Also some other effective organic methods are employed through which production of greenhouse gas can be eliminated and generates soil amendment.
  • The waste management legislations in UK are also highly effective. The national policies and acts like Animal By-Products Regulations, Environment Act of 1995, Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, Landfill Tax Regulations, Waste Management Licensing Regulations play a strong role in regulating wastes and protecting their environment. In UK, waste is first categorised and then shipped from their place of generation to the national territory region. There these wastes go through the process of recycling and needed recovery procedures.

Waste management helps save the environment

As it has been sufficiently discussed, production of biogas and the remodelling and reutilizing of it can be enough useful not only because it is environment friendly but also because its economical. Often it has been seen that a maximum number of vision statements regarding the management of revaluating and disposing the wastage materials is expensive, so the scheme should be to collect wastes separately. Wastes should be categorized properly, then it should be labelled in order of contamination or disruption. In conclusion, it may be said that adoption of different technologies like incinerations, have helped European and continental countries like USA to reduce their dependency on landfills, which in turn becomes an important mechanism to save nature and protect environment


  • Chernicharo, C. (2003). Anaerobic digestion for organic waste management. London: IWA.
  • Environmental restoration and waste management. (1992). Waste Management, 12(1), p.99.
  • Lens, P. (2004). Resource recovery and reuse in organic solid waste management. London: IWA Pub.
  • OECD (2015). OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: The Netherlands. OECD Publishing.
  • Zero Waste Europe (2015). Reporting the International Training on Organics Management. [online]. Available at Last accessed on 16 Mar 2016.

Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).