The Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina has thought of an interesting way to handle their food waste. They have employed almost 2 million previously unemployed workers and are paying them nothing for their efforts to get rid of the food. Before you get mad though, these workers don’t have brains, or other appendages. They’re worms. Apparently these three-inch-long red wigglers can eat half their weight in food a day and they are saving the Charlotte North Carolina airport more with every passing week when it comes to their disposal and waste removal costs. This is done through a process called vermicomposting, and it is something that has previously never been implemented in airports in the country.
Vermicomposting is a process by which worms, in this case red wrigglers although white worms and earthworms can also work, eat and dispose of food waste that is tossed into what looks like a large dirt-filled dumpster. They breakdown this refuse and create fertilizer from it so the airport is getting a double benefit from the worms. And the best part is all it takes is a heated light source to keep them happy. So not only is the airport creating an inexpensive way to fill their flower beds, they are also avoiding the ensuing debris that would normally be left in landfills because they were throwing everything away in a trash bin. It isn’t as easy as just throwing all the food and compostable waste into the worm bin, though.
The waste coming from the Charlotte airport that is destined for vermicomposting must first be sorted to remove all non-compostable and non-recyclable debris. From there, all of the recyclable refuse is removed and the remaining compostable materials are put inside of a large rotating bin to be heated for a few days and begin the process before the worms take over. Once that has been completed, however, it’s up to the red wrigglers to do the rest of the work. This is a revolutionary way to deal with compost waste that comes from large producers of it such as airports. It is much better than tossing all the refuse into a roll off dumpster when instead it can be better used elsewhere.
Places that can handle the space it requires to house 2 million worms would do well to consider this form of waste removal. Locations such as arenas, stadiums, and museums could house the necessary bins that hold these worms. They are also the locations that would most readily need something such as vermicomposting to handle all of their compostable refuse. This is just another story in the fight for new and interesting ways to promote the effort to clean up our planet.
Picture via normanack