Technical Information

Organic Waste

Organic waste can be generally categorized into biosolids from human waste, animal waste, and crop farm or consumer food waste.

Biosolids consist of human waste collected as part of a mechanical wastewater treatment system. On average, mechanical wastewater treatment plants can recover approximately 0.02 DT (0.08 WT at 25% solids) of biosolids per person per year.For each 100,000 of population, approximately 2,000 DT/Y or 8,000 WT/Y is available – generally a slightly larger number in North America and a slightly smaller number in non-North American countries. The lower non-North American volumes are directly related to whether a proper collection system is in place, and the type of treatment deployed at the wastewater treatment facility. For India, for instance, with its population of 1.2 billion, this average figure would equate to approximately 90 Million WT/Year in total of biosolids produced.

Food wastes consist of household or commercial food that is not consumed. This material is typically called Source Separated Organics or “SSO”.In North America, SSO is collected as part of a collection program aimed at diversion of this material from the general residential/commercial waste stream preventing it from ending up in landfills. Commercial SSO is usually “supplied” by the commercial generators as a way to lower overall waste management costs. Typically municipalities apply a tipping fee premium to commercially generated SSO type material. Roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year. Industry estimates of per capita food waste by consumers in North America is 95-115 kg/person/year, while this figure in Asia is only 6-11 kg/person/year.Generally, Asia has a poor collection system for SSO and the SSO material is generally not separated at source as it is in North America. SSO utilization in the Ceres target markets will be limited in the short term until this material is separated at source. General waste or garbage in India is also sorted at the landfill site by pickers who make a living out of extracting items of value from the waste stream.

Farm waste consists of animal waste or waste generated from food production. Animal waste is usually land applied by the generator and farm sourced food production waste is either tilled back into the field, fed into a local anaerobic digester, or local compost operation, or incinerated. There are no reliable estimates of this component of organic waste.

The organic waste markets in general are well developed in North America, with generators of human and SSO material being the municipalities acting on behalf of the consuming population. Farm food waste is generally managed by the farm itself, with the exception of large “feed lots” such as those in Alberta where large volumes of animal waste are increasingly becoming a problem for farmers. The organic waste markets are much less developed in Asia and South America where there are very few wastewater treatment facilities, and food derived organic waste material is generally haphazardly collected and managed. However the opportunities in all the human waste markets are generally much greater where there are areas of high population and density, and where new wastewater treatment plants are being built.