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Biodigesters and Organic Waste

Organic matter can be put to good use when it rots and decomposes rather than just having it sat in landfill where it can attract vermin or other scavengers such as foxes and the subsequent risks to human health that may come with it. As the microbes which break down the organic matter do so they produce and release methane gas as a by-product. This gas can be used as a fuel source to provide heating or turned into electrical power rather than obtaining it from a conventional source of fuel, such as a coal fired power station which has serious consequences for the environment.

The range of organic matter available means that biodigesters and composters can accept a variety of waste products including leftover foodstuffs, plant matter and even animal dung, which not only encourages the recycling of waste matter but enables people living in poorer parts of the world to generate power which they may not have been able to afford had they no option but to purchase it from the Grid.

Decomposing organic matter does have health risks for humans though, with the bacteria present also having the ability to cause serious illnesses to occur if it was somehow ingested. The bacteria will also release strong unpleasant odours which can be a significant limiting factor in the uptake of using biodigesters.


Whilst biodigesters and organic composters are considered good for the environment as it reduces a small part of the reliance and need for fossil fuel created energy, methane is a gas which damages the ozone layer that shields the earth from solar radiation. Gaps or holes in the ozone layer can let in this harmful radiation which damages the cells of organic organisms - including humans - causing conditions such as skin cancer.

Methane gas is extremely explosive. This means that methane gas trapped in a small space can explode if ignited, and will be a real risk for methane gas which is collected in a tank and not correctly processed.


Decomposing organic matter, particularly animal excrement, can also be used to produce fertilisers which increase the health and yield of food crops, and can be a matter of life or death in poorer countries where growing conditions are harsh.

Related Course

Please see below for more information on the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate:

NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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