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Raising Awareness on the Use of Organic Material for Composting

Posted on December 11, 2013

Raising Awareness on the Use of Organic Material for Composting

On November 29, the Second Forum entitled "What are we doing with organic waste? Compost: Uses and Markets" was held in Tijuana to raise awareness about the benefits of composting as a sustainable practice to reclaim organic material for its use in landscaping.

Carmen Romo, Director of the Tijuana Urban Composting Center, said this forum is part of the promotional activities implemented by the Center, which has been operating since January 2013. She said it is a demonstration project funded by the U.S.-Mexico Border 2012 Environmental Program –now Border 2020– under the sponsorship of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Program funds are administered by the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC).

The project is being implemented by the Tijuana-based organization Tijuana Calidad de Vida (TCV), which established a cooperation agreement with the City of Tijuana to use municipal land and collect organic waste obtained from tree pruning and park maintenance activities.

Ms. Romo said this material, together with organic waste from other areas, is the main raw material used to produce compost, which is eventually delivered to the city for the beautification of municipal fields and parks and to support plant growing at the local nursery. She highlighted that the United States-Mexico Border 2020 Environmental Program is a joint effort undertaken by the environmental authorities of both countries –the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Mexico's Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) – to develop actions targeted at protecting the environment and public health along the U.S.-Mexico border. In line with this goal, Romo said, the Composting Center functions as an educational space to raise public awareness about the benefits of composting. It also supports the development of institutional capacity to establish a city-wide composting program. Additionally, it promotes the production of compost at the household level as part of a material reclamation and recycling program designed to reduce the disposal of solid waste from Tijuana households. 

The Tijuana environmentalist said this Composting Center has produced in nearly two years of operation, 140 tons of compost that have been used to fertilize trees in public areas and plants at the municipal nursery. 

She emphasized that composting is a sustainable practice because it uses organic material that would otherwise end up landfills. This helps to extend the life of the municipal landfill by reducing its organic waste load. In addition, the project includes the development of a Composting Techniques Handbook for the region and a website with general information about composting. The project has also trained 800 people through workshops taught by composting experts; these events have been open to the general public and the private sector.

The Director of the Tijuana Urban Composting Center said that the project was funded with an initial US $73,000 grant issued by the Border 2012 Program to TCV (a non-governmental organization) to develop compost and use it in landscaping. Additionally, a US $20,000 grant was provided by the Border 2020 program to strengthen the facility's production capacity and promote public awareness of the benefits of composting. 

On behalf of the EPA, Doug Liden said the agency supports the Composting Center in the context of an agreement established with the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). This agreement provides for the sustainable management of organic and inorganic resources, seeking to reduce the amount of waste going to the U.S. side. One aspect of it is the binational sharing of information, inasmuch as both countries can learn a lot from each other about this issue if they join efforts, the EPA official said.

 This Second Forum gave the participants an opportunity to share the experiences gained with this project. Participants included experts such as Doug Liden from EPA; Carmen Romo from TCV; Yamil Lopez from the City of Tijuana; Ricardo Ortiz, Assistant Director of Waste at SEMARNAT; Carlos Gomez from GEN-PASA; Ana Cordova from COLEF; Manuel Ruiz from FIRCO-SAGARPA; Craig Kolodge from Filtrexx (Carlsbad, California), and David Escalera, from Compastamex (Jalisco).

 News covergage of the event is available through the following links:



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