Is Composting Worm Availability the Main Barrier to Large-Scale Adoption of Worm-Based Organic Waste Processing Technologies

Author: Furlong C., Rajapaksha, N. S., Butt, K. R., Gibson, W. T.

Year: 2017

Publisher: Journal of Cleaner Production, US

Organic waste is the largest typology of waste generated globally, which if untreated, can causes environmental pollution and be a public health risk. The worm-based processing of organic waste is known as vermicomposting and is recognized as a sustainable approach for the management of organic waste streams. Although this technology has been around since the 1970s and many different organic wastes have been successfully processed via vermicomposting, this technology has not been widely adopted at national or international levels. This paper explores the hypothesis that the availability of composting worms is the reason for low uptake of this technology. A market analysis of composting worm farm (vermiculture) businesses in two countries (South Africa and India) was undertaken to explore the hypothesis. It was found that the Indian market had the capacity to supply over 70,000 kg of worms per month, whilst for the South Africa market this was 3000 kg. Both markets have the capability to increase production by two-fold or more. Overall, the study concludes that worm supply is not a barrier to the scaling-up of worm-based technologies in either country. Additionally, these countries show the potential to assist development of worm-based systems in neighboring countries through export of composting worms.

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