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Humus Culture

Waste, Colombia

Every day six thousand tons of waste is dumped at the landfill of Doña Juana. This is the garbage of eight million people, which is randomly being dumped in an uncontrolled manner. The regular consequences are serious health problems for the people that live and work in the surroundings of the landfill, who have respiratory, skin and stomach diseases. These problems were topped by a massive garbage landslide in 1997, where 18 million tons of waste collapsed and flowed into the river.

Solving a garbage puzzle

The idea of humus culture emerged after the disaster. According to environmental activist Ana Mery Gonzales – one of the projects initiators – the huge out of proportion landfills would not have to exist if the garbage is properly sorted and the organic waste is processed and reused elsewhere. But because room is scarce in the densely populated capital city, there had to be found a way to store all this bio based waste and to speed up the time consuming composting process.


With the help of earthworms
So, the idea of boxed humus culture was born. In order to make use of vertical space, the bio waste is conveniently stored in boxes and Annelids earthworms are added to the bio waste, creating a lively humus culture. Today, organic waste - that is normally thrown away - gets collected at the Abornate company. First, the waste is chopped and dried in the sun. Then the worms are added. They take only about 15 to 20 days to turn the waste into a soil enhancing fertilizer, that is even 25% cheaper than the ordinary chemically produced fertilizer.

The aim is now to develop this project on a large scale with the support of the local government of Bogotá.