Monday, November 1, 2010

Tons of Rotting Garbage or 1,000 eggs a day?

Would you rather have 127 tons of stinky, rotting garbage waiting for once a week pickup and expensive disposal in a landfill or 1,000 nutritious eggs each day? That's a question the City of Sarasota might want to ask itself. Some of this is theoretical, but even if the numbers are off a little, the argument is still persuasive.

According to WasteAge, food waste makes up an average of 11.7 percent of municipal solid waste So let's use 10% of 3.5. That equals .35 pounds a day. Times 365 days equals 127.5 pounds a year.

Sarasota has about 23,000 households. For the sake of argument and ease of math, let's assume just 1 in 23 households had a few chickens. That's a thousand households. Each household has a little more than 2 residents. So each household probably produces about.7 lbs of food waste a day, or 255 pounds per year. That's about 5 pounds per household waiting by the curb once a week. You are free to imagine odors, flies, or hungry noisy raccoons if you want. Times our thousand households is 255,500 pounds of food waste a year, or 127 tons.

Now what if those chicken-owning households feed the food waste to their hens? Well, some food waste won't be eaten by chickens-- things like bones, citrus rinds, and onion skins. So lets conservatively use .5 lbs. times 1,000 households equals 500 pounds of food waste/chicken supplement a day.

Household food waste may or may not be a nutritious as production chicken food, but the food waste will be a supplement, so let's use 6 pounds of feed per dozen eggs. That means a half pound of food makes 1 egg. So 500 pounds of food waste each day should produce 1,000 eggs a day!

Can these chickens actually eat five pounds of food waste each week, if "an egg-type hen will consume about 85-95 pounds of feed/bird/year"? That means each hen only eats about a quarter pound of feed each day and the average household is producing a half pound. With four chickens food scraps would behalf their diet with room for bugs in the yard and commercial feed. Taking the number to six (which CLUCK has supported) would mean one third their diet would be household food waste and two thirds forage and commercial feed.

You can question the math however you want, cut the number of households in half, or further discount the feed conversion ratio. And I will adjust these numbers if someone gives me better data. But the fact remains that however you jigger the numbers, we'd be better off converting food waste to edible eggs than putrescence in a landfill.

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