Each day Mexico City produces 5,100 tons of organic waste, 600 of which come from the city's sprawling Central de Abasto, or central marketplace. The center, known as the CEDA, is the largest food distribution center in the country and one of the largest in the world. In February, the city closed one of its principal dumps, the West Dump, when it reached maximum capacity. The closure has forced experts to think creatively about new ways to divert waste.
A diverse group of researchers from the National Autonomous University (UNAM) and the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) recently came together to find a way to redirect the food waste from the dump to local farmers for compost.
"Close to 80 percent of the CEDA's waste goes to the landfill. We have to...recuperate the organic material to reduce the amount disposed at the dump," said Luis Tovar, head of the project and an IPN researcher. Before the closure, only a small fraction of the organic waste generated at the market -- between 30 and 40 tons -- was reused as compost at the West Dump.The researchers, who received funding from the Mexico City Institute of Science and Technology, hope to find fruit and vegetable producers at the CEDA who can use the food waste as compost for their own fertilizer. First, however, vendors will have to be identified and educated on how to separate the organic waste from the non-biodegradable waste.
According to the Mexico City Environment Secretariat, the government spents on average 1.5 million pesos per year on garbage collection and disposal. If the organic material can be captured, the city could reduce its overall waste burden by 40 percent.:: Via El Universal (Spanish link)