As a food waste fertilizer company, we field a lot of caps-locked commentary about our product, usually comparing it to “glorified compost.”
We’re here to set the record straight.
Using the same main ingredient as compost doesn’t mean the finished products are one and the same. Buckle your seatbelts friends because it’s time to learn a little something about composting – and how what we’re doing at TrashCan® can change the way you think about food waste.
To understand how composting and TrashCan are different, first we need to get into what composting is.
What is Composting?
As word spreads about the enormity of food wasted across the globe, more and more people are turning to composting to help reduce their household waste and reduce their carbon footprint.
If you’ve heard of composting, it’s likely that the first thing to pop into your head is a large pile of rotting food – and you’d be partially correct.
Composting is the process of decomposing biodegradable and organic materials under controlled circumstances, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. That partially decomposed material is referred to as compost, which can then be used as a soil amendment.
Soil amendments improve the soil health by:
– Providing the slow release nutrients
– Increasing microbial activity
– Increasing water retention
– Acting as a binder
– Neutralizing pH levels
– Creating a healthy ecosystem for fungi and macro-organisms
How does Composting Work?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that a compost pile have the correct ratio of:
– Green (nitrogen heavy) materials
– Brown (carbon heavy) materials
In order to decompose your green, nitrogen heavy food scraps, microorganisms need high levels of carbon, which they can get from brown items like dried leaves, straw or hay. Large contributions to your pile should be chopped or shredded and dry materials should be moistened as they are added.
Composting is an aerobic process, which means that a compost pile must be turned and aerated on a regular basis to provide oxygen to encourage organic decomposition.
Each of the following variables can affect your compost pile:
– Invasive tree roots
What’s the Difference Between Fertilizer and Compost?
Where compost is used to improve soil health, fertilizers act as a plant food by increasing the concentration of nutrients in soil to directly affect plant growth. Fertilizers offer high levels of water-soluble nutrients, which can immediately be absorbed by plants to induce growth spurts.
There are many types of fertilizers, including liquids and solids, which can be sprayed or poured over soil or mixed in, depending on their composition.
While compost has relatively unknown levels of nutrients, fertilizers offer precisely measured levels of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus, the nutrients most essential to plant growth, either in all-purpose formulas or in formulas tailored to specific plant types.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of commercial and synthetic fertilizers lose their effectiveness under a week after application due to the rapid release of all nutrients into the soil. This quick life cycle can lead to over application of fertilizers, which causesexcess nutrients to run off into natural water sources and pollute the environment. High levels of nitrogen and other chemicals used in fertilizer cause permanent damage to topsoil, which takes hundreds of years to replenish.
Why TrashCan Food Waste Fertilizer is Different from Compost
TrashCan is a fertilizer, a plant food, not a soil amendment like compost. To create TrashCan, we source food waste from restaurants, grocery stores and households that becomes the base for our fertilizer and its number one ingredient.
TrashCan fertilizer is created anaerobically (without Oxygen,) with machinery that digests food waste and other organic ingredients to produce biogas (a source of renewable energy) and digestate. TrashCan then removes liquid from the digestate so that it forms a dry, nearly odorless and nutrient-packed fertilizer.
Our flagship, all-purpose fertilizer contains nutrients in the ratio:
– 4% Nitrogen (.9% soluble, 3.1% insoluble)
– 4% Phosphorus
– 4% potassium
When mixed into soil and thoroughly watered, TrashCan releases the water-soluble Nitrogen needed for increased plant growth, then provides slow release nutrients to sustain growth and soil health. When utilized correctly, TrashCan fertilizer is effective for up to two months during growing season, and can last even longer during winter when microbial activity slows, so there’s no need to over apply.
At TrashCan we believe that good products should also be good for the environment, which is why we use food waste as our number one ingredient and are working towards a 100% food-waste-based solution. To try our 4-4-4 all-purpose fertilizer for yourself or to see which formulas we’re launching next, click here.