Bokashi CITIES2030 Horizon2020-CITIES2030

Bokashi in the urban food system

The blog is written by Liisa Karlsson in July 2022. It is associated with the Lahti Living Lab Bokashi bio composting experiment and Cities2030 project.

Originally from Japan, the bokashi method has the potential to reduce and utilize food waste. Introducing the method to the public does not come without its problems.

Although fairly low maintenance, not foolproof. Perfecting the bokashi process takes knowledge of the right bran to scraps ratio, draining the noxious liquid and moisture level, for example. For bokashi composting to become common in urban housing, more education and public information resources are needed.

Where should people in urban settings use the compost? Everyone doesn’t have access to their own garden and house plants need only so much new soil. In addition, the fermented waste isn’t technically completely ready after it’s taken out of the bokashi container, it needs to be further processed in the soil composting unit where it breaks down fully. This step is a major problem for some urban living situations. Hence a city or housing unit would need a common final composting destination. Ideally, this destination would be within walking distance of the housing, but in case it’s not would the transferring of the compost happen with a refuse collection vehicle. This would reset the waste transfer emission reduction. So why should we transfer the responsibility of biomass composting from the waste treatment facility to the public by bokashi if, in the end, the facilities need to step in anyways? 

Maybe we need to renovate the waste system altogether by taking inspiration from the electricity market. What if urban dwellers could sell the produced compost to the waste management industry so that they could forward the compost to gardens and agriculture. Much like we can sell solar energy back to the electric power network. In large enough quantity this could be extremely beneficial for horticulture and agriculture and soil quality. The small reward for composting could work as an incentive for composting. On the negative side, this would lead to multiple transferring trips adding to the emissions.

So, I see two major problems for the bokashi revolution, logistics, and education. If those two could be solved, we might be able to reduce the over 100 million kg of food waste produced in a year just in Finland alone. And on the side help agriculture with the huge problem of soil erosion.

This blog is associated with the Lahti Living Lab experiment on Bokashi bio composting. The Lahti Living Lab and the experiment engages new entrants to test and learn about Bokashi bio composting.

The aim of the experiment is to identify drivers, enablers, and obstacles of household food waste bio composting, and to devise and test improvements, practices, and solutions to promote household bio composting.

The bokashi experiment promotes inhabitants’ carbon handprint, self-sufficiency, and resilience.

The Lahti Living Lab embraces also Lahti region waste management authorities and waste management operator that is Salpakierto Oy. Together they guide biowaste handling in the region. In addition, Esbau who is the retailer of BioProffa equipment contributes to the action together, with other Bokashi experts. The Regional Council of Päijät-Häme promotes City Region Food Systems transition toward sustainability.

The experiment is supported by the Horizon 2020 project Cities2030.

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