Would a dump smell as sweet?

A surprising new technology for cleaning up the smell and disease of garbage


Marco Visscher | April 2005 issue

If there was a technique that allowed you to actually smell the problem discussed in this article you’d likely toss the magazine out the window. We’re talking about something really stinky: Garbage dumps in the tropics. They not only smell terrible, they are prime sources of disease and infection—a breeding ground for bacteria and rats. Yet in poor countries, some people spend most of their days atop trash heaps looking for something of value they can sell or use.

This is an age-old concern, but a surprising new technology offers great hope in cleaning up the problem. EM (Effective Micro-organisms) is the name of a recently discovered mixture of lactic acid bacteria, fungi and yeast micro-organisms—a Japanese invention that has shown good results promoting fertility for plants and animals. It has been used in agriculture, horticulture, cattle breeding, fishery, forestry and water purification in more than 100 countries.

The technology is also an aid for human health. (see Ode, March 2004). In the aftermath of last December’s tsunami, EM was used by Thailand’s Red Cross to eliminate the stench of corpses on the beach. It’s also being used to sanitize a 20-hectare (50-acre) garbage dump in Praekkasa, a village outside Bangkok, which I visited in January.

Every day over 1,000 tons of Bangkok’s waste is dumped here. And yet the air felt surprisingly fresh to me, which, according to manager Panya Tungdenchai, is thanks to the 20,000 litres (5250 gallons) of EM mixed with water and molasses that is sprayed on the dump in two separate applications every day. Tungdenchai described the situation five years ago: “There was a bad odour and flies were everywhere. When my employees wanted to eat, they went inside and sat inside mosquito netting because it wasn’t safe otherwise.” Walking through the dump on my visit, I could count the number of flies on one hand.

How does it work? To put it simply, EM promotes the regenerative micro-organisms in an ecosystem over those that tend to create degeneration and decay. When used in a garbage dump, it reduces the number of pathogenic micro-organisms, which gets rid of the smell. In countries where environmental protection measures have fallen short, EM makes an important contribution to keeping the air, water and soil around garbage dumps safe.

In Vietnam, where rapid urbanization means a vast increase in the amount of waste produced, uses EM on garbage dumps on a large scale. The technology is being applied in 62 percent of Vietnam’s cities, according to Le Khac Quang, director of the Vina-Nichi Center for Technology Development in Hanoi. Many communities now separate organic waste from the rest of the garbage. After being processed using EM, the organic waste can be safely and cheaply sold as compost for area farmers. Quang adds that EM is more cost-efficient than using the customary disinfectants and powdered lime on garbage dumps.

More information: www.emtech.org and www.emro.co.jp/english. Please email overseas@emro.co.jp to find out where you can obtain EM.

Solution News Source

Would a dump smell as sweet?

A surprising new technology for cleaning up the smell and disease of garbage


Marco Visscher | April 2005 issue

If there was a technique that allowed you to actually smell the problem discussed in this article you’d likely toss the magazine out the window. We’re talking about something really stinky: Garbage dumps in the tropics. They not only smell terrible, they are prime sources of disease and infection—a breeding ground for bacteria and rats. Yet in poor countries, some people spend most of their days atop trash heaps looking for something of value they can sell or use.

This is an age-old concern, but a surprising new technology offers great hope in cleaning up the problem. EM (Effective Micro-organisms) is the name of a recently discovered mixture of lactic acid bacteria, fungi and yeast micro-organisms—a Japanese invention that has shown good results promoting fertility for plants and animals. It has been used in agriculture, horticulture, cattle breeding, fishery, forestry and water purification in more than 100 countries.

The technology is also an aid for human health. (see Ode, March 2004). In the aftermath of last December’s tsunami, EM was used by Thailand’s Red Cross to eliminate the stench of corpses on the beach. It’s also being used to sanitize a 20-hectare (50-acre) garbage dump in Praekkasa, a village outside Bangkok, which I visited in January.

Every day over 1,000 tons of Bangkok’s waste is dumped here. And yet the air felt surprisingly fresh to me, which, according to manager Panya Tungdenchai, is thanks to the 20,000 litres (5250 gallons) of EM mixed with water and molasses that is sprayed on the dump in two separate applications every day. Tungdenchai described the situation five years ago: “There was a bad odour and flies were everywhere. When my employees wanted to eat, they went inside and sat inside mosquito netting because it wasn’t safe otherwise.” Walking through the dump on my visit, I could count the number of flies on one hand.

How does it work? To put it simply, EM promotes the regenerative micro-organisms in an ecosystem over those that tend to create degeneration and decay. When used in a garbage dump, it reduces the number of pathogenic micro-organisms, which gets rid of the smell. In countries where environmental protection measures have fallen short, EM makes an important contribution to keeping the air, water and soil around garbage dumps safe.

In Vietnam, where rapid urbanization means a vast increase in the amount of waste produced, uses EM on garbage dumps on a large scale. The technology is being applied in 62 percent of Vietnam’s cities, according to Le Khac Quang, director of the Vina-Nichi Center for Technology Development in Hanoi. Many communities now separate organic waste from the rest of the garbage. After being processed using EM, the organic waste can be safely and cheaply sold as compost for area farmers. Quang adds that EM is more cost-efficient than using the customary disinfectants and powdered lime on garbage dumps.

More information: www.emtech.org and www.emro.co.jp/english. Please email overseas@emro.co.jp to find out where you can obtain EM.

Solution News Source

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