AntarctiCan You Believe How Far They Ship Waste?

What’s Antarctican food waste doing in Spokane? Why, it’s being burned, of course.

Apparently, life on Antarctica is like camping–pack it in, pack it out. Not being able to dig a hole (to build a landfill) and having to follow the Arctic Treaty, Antarctic researchers have to send all of their refuse elsewhere. Most everything is recycled, and then there’s the food waste.

The government contractor charged with this cleanup task, recently sent 300 tons of food waste all the way to an incinerator in Spokane, Wash. Sorry, I meant to say it goes to a (euphemism alert!) waste-to-energy facility.

It seems a bit odd to pay a whopping $165 per ton to burn food waste when composting or anaerobic digestion (true waste-to-energy) would be more economical and environmental. And did anyone even look into feeding food scraps to penguins??

But, if that were the case, that food waste wouldn’t get the chance to burn alongside confiscated drugs and other seized goods. So there’s that…

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3 Comments

  1. WilliamB
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Life in Antarctica is far more stringent on the pack it in/pack it out philosophy than any hiking trip. They take not contaminating the environment very seriously down there. Up to and including sledgers (people pulling their own sledges across the continent) excreting into bags so they can pack that out along with all the rest of the trash. Trying to anarobically compost may not be a good idea[1] and feeding the penguins is a really bad one. So I hope you weren’t serious about that…

    [1] If they have indoor gardens then maybe vermicomposting is in order … but for all I know that’s already in place.

  2. Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    So, it seems like the solution lies more in reducing the (edible) foot waste so there’s less to dispose of. Of course, you’re still going to have to deal with peels and shells, but I have to imagine that some of the aforementioned food waste was edible at one point.

  3. Angel Arroyo-Rodrigu
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Considering the camp installations they have and all the wastewater hey might produce and should be treating, it likely would make sense to have an anaerobic digester with biogas recovery. They can be scaled down.

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