Composting Can Improve Your ESG Score & Complement Your Waste Management Efforts
ESG is an ubiquitous term in the corporate world today, an ever-growing priority for long-term business planning and a key way that many consumers judge a brand.
Short for Environmental, Social, and (Corporate) Governance, ESG is a way to quantify a company’s commitment to social responsibility and includes a broad range of factors such as hiring and sourcing diversity/equity/inclusion, resource management, privacy protection, and much more.
Many companies have already seized upon their waste streams as an opportunity for reducing their ecological footprint. And some are catching onto the simple yet powerful impact posed by composting, and enjoying the resulting benefits in all three categories of ESG.
Composting Helps Your ESG Efforts
You’ll find that some variation of Zero Waste is a target for virtually all of the top-ranked ESG companies. Microsoft, for example, includes it as one of the company’s four ESG pillars and has reported that recycling and composting have put it on track to meet its goal of zero waste by 2030.
Although the environmental aspect of composting is the most readily identifiable, it also bears positive fruit within the social and governance elements.
Making ESG tangible and meaningful to employees is a noted difficulty of executing an ESG strategy, and composting represents a fun, easily accessible, and reproducible sustainability activity that can carry over from the corporate world to home life, which is arguably the best thing that could be said about a corporate sustainability program.
Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Compost is for plants, and plant-based foods emit CO2 10-50 times lower than animal-based products by reducing or eliminating the amount of land use change, animal feed needed, processing, and more.
When organic waste is left to rot in landfills, it also produces much higher levels of methane than it would when turned regularly in a compost heap.
Diverting from Landfills
Keeping organic waste out of landfills not only improves air quality, it saves dwindling space in landfills. By some accounts, the U.S. has less than 20 years of landfill space remaining unless it takes action to either expand current capacity or develop new ways and means of diverting trash.
Increasing Soil Health
Chemical fertilizers make soil acidic over time and kill beneficial microbes in the soil. They also leach into groundwater, encourage plant disease, and can contribute to the release of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
Compost, on the other hand, returns trace nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to the soil. It also helps gardens retain water better, so that less is needed, and improves crop yields.
Carbon is vital for plant growth, but conventional soils don’t store or release much of it. Compost helps by providing soil microbes both carbon and other nutrients so that they can filter the carbon into stabilized forms that are ready to be used by plants.
Despite a popular belief among “locavores” that being locally grown means a food improves food security for the community, this isn’t automatically the case. However, researchers recognize that local food systems–which are commonly powered by compost–can contribute to rural development and a sense of community.
Composting also encourages environmental responsibility among stakeholders and creates opportunities for employees and others to become involved in the community. Community gardens are natural hubs for companies to host workshops and educational programs for local residents to teach home composting techniques and best practices.
Safeguarding Public Health
Compost can be used in place of synthetic fertilizers and even pesticides, which is a big win for the environment.
When rainwater causes runoff from gardens and farms, nitrogen and phosphorus in chemical fertilizers are deposited in large amounts into nearby rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. This in turn causes algae to see an explosion of growth, which can block sunlight from penetrating below the surface of the water and disrupting the ecosystem. And when it dies off, aerobic bacteria consume oxygen other marine life need to breathe.
Composting also keeps organic waste out of landfills, where it is prone to creating community nuisances such as odors, the presence of pests, and even the spread of disease.
Increase Resource Efficiency
Your business doesn’t have to be directly involved in food services to get a boost to your “G” in ESG via composting. Composting and waste reduction go hand-in-hand; it can complement your other recycle-reduce-reuse efforts, even if it only comprises lunch and snack scraps from employee meals.
Reducing waste helps you optimize the way you use raw materials and even energy, making you more efficient and more sustainable. It also has effects downstream, such as reducing the demand for chemical fertilizers thanks to the creation of natural compost.
Conducting a waste audit can give you a clear picture of your waste stream and uncover opportunities to both limit waste and mitigate disposal costs.
Support the Circular Economy
The “nutrient loop” refers to the state in which the nutrients in food are returned to the soil in usable form. This can be from compost, wastewater, livestock manure, or discarded or leftover food. The phrase also refers to delivering nutrients at the right time and place to match plant needs.
The current corporate approach emphasizes the economics over the long-term effects: artificial nitrogen fertilizer is inexpensive and easier to obtain than manure. Landfilling and incineration can be performed by many fewer personnel than industrial composting operations require.
But the shortcomings of synthetic fertilizer are well-known (see above). And our crops are the worse for it, which means we are the worse for it.
Corporations are needed who will lead the shift toward seeing food waste as a valuable resource and invest in the jobs and the technologies to make it possible. Composting is a small step that can play a fundamental role in bringing about that shift.
Enhance Your ESG Efforts by Working with a Proven Composting Service
Moonshot is an invaluable partner for companies seeking to start or enhance their ESG programs. Besides practicing sustainability ourselves, we offer customers…
- transparent ESG reporting through our Diversion Dashboard
- onboarding and education
- high food waste volume disposal capability