Cornucopia’s Take: The disposal of society’s wastes is frequently met with an “out of sight out of mind” approach. Everything that goes down the drains in our homes, industries, and institutions ends up in waterways and as sewage sludge from water treatment plants. According to the EPA more than 50 percent of the seven million dry tons of sewage sludge produced nationally ends up on farmland. Using sewage sludge on organic farms is prohibited by federal law.

While recycling the nutrients in human waste is key to ultimate sustainability, there is concern over chemical uptake into the food chain from potential unregulated contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, and heavy metals. Some European countries have created closed loops for industrial wastes and are composting residential sewage in response to sewage contamination.

Watch the documentary below for more on this important issue.

Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes
National Film Board

Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes, Jeff McKay, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Synopsis: A hazardous mix of waste is flushed into the sewer every day. The billions of litres of water – combined with unknown quantities of chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, human waste and food – where does it all go? And what does it do to us? Filmed in Italy, India, Sweden, the United States and Canada, this bold documentary questions our fundamental attitudes to waste. Does our need to dispose of waste take precedence over public safety? What are the alternatives?

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