Suppose in addition to your blue bin for recyclables, you had a green one for kitchen scraps? And suppose that those scraps were collected and mixed with yard waste, then processed in small, low-emission factories into compost and a clean fuel that could power your car? It sounds utopian, but it’s reality in Europe, where no less than 18 "Kompogas" plants operate. There’s even one in Japan.
Kompogas got its start in Zurich, Switzerland in the late 1980s, when inventor Walter Schmid conducted some experiments on his balcony at home. His test fermenter convinced him it would be possible to turn organic wastes (a third of the household garbage stream) into fuel and compost. The first trial plant was set up in Rümlang, Switzerland in 1991, and from there the concept has spread to Germany (which plans to ban landfill disposal of untreated solid waste by 2005) and Austria."Kompogas is like an ox," says Schmid. "It eats, which gives it the energy it needs to power the cart. Any surplus is used as fertilizer for the fields."