International Compost Awareness Week kicks off in May

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) will see global organisations band together to build awareness of the benefits of compost.

Activities and celebrations will take place in Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, Ireland and the Czech Republic in the first full week of May.

Starting in Canada in 1995, ICAW has grown into an annual international event as more people, businesses, municipalities, schools and organisations begin to recognise the importance of compost and the long-term benefits of organics recycling.

Australian Organics Recycling Association National Executive Officer Diana De Hulsters said the goal of the program is to raise public awareness of how the use of compost can improve and maintain high quality soil, grow healthy plants, reduce the use of fertiliser and pesticides, improve water quality and protect the environment.

“Globally we have seen that innovative programs and successful efforts have improved organics recycling and sustainability,” Ms Hulsters said.

“International partners are coming together to broaden the understanding of compost use and promote awareness of the recycling of organic residuals.”

Ms Hulsters said while details vary amongst countries, a number of the facts about organics recycling and compost use transcend political and cultural boundaries.

“Soil health and productivity are dependent on organic matter in the form of compost or humus to provide the sustenance for biological diversity in the soil,” Ms Hulsters said.

“Plants depend on this to convert materials into plant-available nutrients and to keep the soil well-aerated. Additional benefits include the reduced need for pesticide usage to ward off soil-borne and other plant diseases.”

Ms Hulsters also highlighted the climate change mitigation benefits of composting by explaining how compost soil returns serve as a carbon bank.

“Diverting food and yard waste from landfills reduces the emission of methane, a greenhouse gas twenty-five times more powerful than carbon dioxide,” Ms Hulsters said.

“The use of landfill space and incineration can be reduced by at least one-third when organics are recycled. Focused attention on recycling organic residuals is key to achieving high diversion rates.”

The ICAW program includes tours of compost facilities, school gardening programs, compost workshops, lectures by gardening experts and compost give-away days.

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