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A New Circular Economy Example: Closing The Loop For Poop

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“Well, what do you think? Of course I poop too.” getty When their children reach the age for “potty training” many parents read them the book, “ Everyone Poops .” That isn’t just a reality for humans – it applies to all animals including those raised for meat and dairy products. In all these cases the manure or sewage that is generated presents various hazards including human and animal pathogens, air pollution, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Yet at the same time these waste streams represent potential resources including water, fertilizer and energy. The failure to fully tap those resources is problematic – one could modify a line from a 1970s fundraising campaign to say that “waste is a terrible thing to waste.”

Fortunately there are technological solutions to both deal with the hazards and enable the resource recovery opportunities. Municipal sewage treatment systems generally do a good job of mitigating environmental and public health risks, but most systems only recover part of the resource potential. Manure from farm animals is typically re-utilized as a fertilizer, but some of the nutrient content is lost and the environmental issues persist. Manure is usually applied to crops that are not for […]

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