Are you aware of a list of profitable waste streams?
Coffee grinds can be used to grow oyster mushrooms, the compost can then be feed to worms providing more worms and castings.
I can get a pick up truck of saw dust for $20. I can think of many uses for the sawdust. Biochar, more mushrooms, compost.
Kitchen scrapes. Methane digester, compost, pig fodder....
Waste heat. Build a greenhouse to capture free heat from buildings. I. My town the new supercomputer center could heat 14 acres of greenhouses to 70'f all winter! We are working to do rhis in a few years.
Vermont compost company not only makes compost but runs 1000 laying hens on it with no supplemental feed.
I started raising soldier fly grubs which turn waste into high value protein feed for fish and poultry.
We used to get all kinds of free food for out pis from supermarkets and bakeries.
We tried feeding them brewery waste and they thought it was too gross. I agreed.
Our new greenhouse was reused insulation, billboard vinyl, lumber, and aquaponics tanks.
Chickens will eat just about anything. "Free range eggs" were about the easiest marketable thing I could produce during the years I was involved in marketing....We would feed them all kinds of things out of the dumpsters....plus garden trash, kitchen trash, farm gleanings, roadkill....And this was before I knew about soldier flies! Those things are amazing, if you live in a climate where they thrive (hot, humid....Georgia. Here I have to replace them mailorder every spring and only get three or four months out of them) They can turn dog manure, humanure, poisonous mushrooms....into wonderful poultry food! The egg inspector in GA would take one look into the yard and shed, and see a deep litter of mulch and nest boxes, and then go over my egg-candling and washing station carefully. At $2 a dozen in the '90's, those eggs were the most profitable thing on the site....
Ramial wood chips can be a waste stream in urban environments. Where I am, I can get them delivered for free if I take enough of them. I figure you can pile them in towers constructed of pallets with the bottom open to the ground. This in itself plus rain constitutes a breeding factory for wood lice (Armadillidium), which I think could easily be fed to chickens as a good source of protein.
In a more general way, Paul's observations that it is necessary to be careful about any industrial compost is a suggestion in itself; a completely video documented operation that could be posted to youtube could be connected to packaging via a QR code on the compost bag. You could construct a whole compost operation, or vermiculture, mycoculture (I think that's what you'd call using fungi in this context), Black Soldier Fly Larvae, or all of the above in succession, starting with BSFL. I think there might be a niche market for completely uncontaminated compost. All you would have to do would be to source your materials from organic sources. Citytrees, for instance, aren't sprayed. No point. Too expensive. Organic stores have unsold produce that goes bad, too. Organic coffee shops might not be doing anything with their grounds but throwing them out.
The sourcing would take creativity, but the rest of the operation is relatively simple.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
This is a great subject for discussion. I feel that everyone with the knowledge and means to do so should be redirecting useful municipal waste streams. A few things have come to mind:
- restaurant and grocery wastes, processed via black soldier flies (Americans toss around 40% of food)
- waste cooking oils, for biodiesel (a la Jules Dervaes)
- landscaping/yard wastes, for compost
- shipping pallets, useful for pig/goat fencing, green building
- used tires, also for construction, or for raised beds
- cardboard, phone books, junk mail and expired newspapers, for compost, worm food, sheet mulching, filling hugels, water storage for trees
And many more, I imagine.
Every day, every season there is change, something new to observe, and constant learning. Permaculture has the dimensions of a life-oriented chess game, involving the elements, energy, and the dimensions of both life-forms and building structures (also with political, social, financial, and global implications).
I read about a guy living near a peach canning facility.
He charged them a small fee for hauling away all of the peach pits from their waste stream.
He then converted them all into mini charcoal briquettes, which he sold.
On tires --- They're toxic waste. One of the most ill conceived homes I've ever entered was made of tires. My grandmother was the proud owner of the world's ugliest planters in the 70s.
On composting all that paper --- Seems like a waste of a recyclable product and another milder form of toxic waste. Unless you're in an extremely impoverished environment ( the moon, a lava field ) there is bound to be more suitable compostables available.
I've earned my living from the waste stream for 20 years. Go after buildings, scrap metals, logging debris and (probably the best one for newcomers) the mountains of free stuff available on sites like craigslist and at the end of yard sales. By learning how to conduct simple repairs, most manufactured items that you are likely to need are available for very little or for free. My part time helper Claude, grabs every free bicycle available to him. He sells refurbished bikes in the $20 to $100 range depending on quality and he always has a really nice bike.