Worm composting could be doing more harm than good to the environment, a leading researcher claimed today.
Jim Frederickson, senior research fellow at the Open Universities faculty of technology, said: Worms produce a significant amount of greenhouse gases. Recent research done by German scientists has found that worms produced a third of nitrous oxide gases when used for composting.
The wiggly ones naturally produce nitrous oxide gases when they are put into the process of composting.
We have concentrated on getting waste out of landfill and into worm composting systems but they can actually produce more greenhouse gases than landfill sites produce, Frederickson said.
Under the Waste Strategy the Government has strongly supported the composting of waste in efforts to reduce the landfilling of biodegradable waste. This includes encouraging householders to invest in home composting systems.
The Government wishes to increase the amount of waste which is composted to 40% by 2010 and 45% by 2015.
Although Frederickson says that worm composting is a positive thing, he claims that not enough research has been done on worms releasing polluting gases.
Frederickson said: Everybody loves them because they think they can do no harm but they contribute to global warming. People are looking into alternative waste treatments but we have to make sure that we are not jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
We need to investigate all alternative systems for greenhouse potential.
The emissions that come from these worms can actually be 290 times more potent than carbon dioxide and 20 times more potent than methane. In all environmental systems you get good points and bad points.