Effective microorganisms (EM) for accelerating composting

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The world is facing many problems, one of them being the treatment and disposal of solid waste. Many new technologies are being developed but they must follow strict environmental regulations. According to the Government of Canada, in Canada solid waste is sent to landfills to be disposed of and in some cases treated.[1] A disadvantage of landfills includes the release of methane gas, a greenhouse gas, from decomposing organic waste. The government of Canada states that methane emissions from landfills can be reduced by diverting organic material (food and yard waste) from landfills by composting or using anaerobic digestion.[1] One of the many methods being used for the disposal of the organic material is the use of effective microorganisms (EM) for accelerating composting.

What are they?

EM is a natural and probiotic technology developed at the university of Ryukus, Ikinawa Japan by Dr. Higa during the 1970s.[2] EM comes in liquid form and is made up of non-pathogenic and non-harmful coexisting aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms.[3] According to the EM Research Organization (EMRO) these microorganisms are natural occurring, which means they are not genetically modified or chemically synthesized.[4] The main species present in EM include lactic acid bacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, yeasts, acitinomycetes, and fermenting fungi.[5] These microorganisms have the ability to suppress harmful microorganisms and disease inducing microorganisms. Moreover, effective microorganisms are known to be useful in a wide variety of fields such as agriculture, animal husbandry, gardening and landscaping, composting, bioremediation, and even algal control. Several studies have been done to prove that effective microorganisms are beneficial in many fields. For instance, a study done to evaluate effective microorganisms in solid waste management revealed three things. Firstly, kitchen waste provided effective microorganisms an ideal environment to grow, which produced a higher quality of compost. Secondly, organic matter improves soil management for sustainable cultivation of any crop and since effective microorganisms help produce higher quality compost, the crops used in the study had optimal growth. Lastly, Sekeran, Balaji, and Bhagavathipushpa stated that “the adaptation of effective microorganisms (EM) leads to detoxification of… landfills, decontamination of [the] environment and promotes highly sustainable, closed-cycle agricultural and organic waste treatment.” [5]

Types of EM Products

Also, there are different kinds of EM products. The original and most common EM solution is EM-1, which is used in over 120 countries [6] EM-1 is present in all applications of EM (agriculture, livestock, aquaculture, etc.), but it needs to be activated first.[2] The activation process of EM-1 involves a number of steps, but already activated EM-1 is usually sold by companies such as The Organic Gardener’s Pantry, Teraganix, or EMRO Japan. Other types of EM products include EM Bokashi, EM Mud balls, EM・X GOLD. EM Bokashi is fermented organic material made from activated EM-1, molasses, water, and organic material such as saw dust of dried leaves.[6] It used in composting kitchen waste; it ferments and strops the food waste from rotting, which eliminates bad odours released from food waste. Next, EM Mud balls are simply made of dried mud into Bokashi or activated EM-1, and they are used to clean up bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and even oceans. Lastly, EM・X GOLD is a drink to balance individuals’ health and its main ingredient is extract from culture of effective microorganisms, XCEM.[6]

Market Opportunity

EM products have a large market opportunity since they can be used in many fields. For instance, they can be used by an average family for their kitchen waste and for themselves to maintain good health. Also, farmers can use it to enrich the soil to produce better quality and healthier crops at a greater yield [7] In agriculture, effective microorganisms can decrease pests, diseases, and the need for weeding or tilling. Moreover, it can be used in industries such as construction; adding EM to cement gives it more strength.[7] EM products can be used by mostly any individual in many different fields, which gives it huge market opportunities.

How does exporting EM benefit Canada?

The use of EM for composting in agriculture involves the recycling of solid waste into fertilizers in an environmentally friendly and efficient way.[6] The fact that this method does not harm the environment and counteracts environmental pollution benefits the entire world, including Canada. Exporting activated EM to Nepal will benefit Canadians by providing jobs for the production of this technology. Individuals could potentially be hired to activate the EM-1, to prepare the different products that may be exported, and even to handle paperwork that may be needed. According to the Government of Canada, Canada and Nepal have had long-lasting bilateral relations since 1965.[8] From 2012 to 2013 Canada exported a total of $7.1 million into Nepal and imported $11.7 million from Nepal. The major exports to Nepal fall under the areas of aerospace, machineries, paper and paper board, vegetables and optical instruments and appliances.[8] Exporting EM products to Nepal will bring more money into Canada and it will make Canada and Nepal relations even stronger.

Canadian Company

Currently, Canadians can only obtain EM products from “The Organic Gardener’s Pantry” located in Victoria, BC. This business is run by two individuals, Christina Nikolic and Phil Nauta, Christina being the only one in Canada. Their goal is to “… [find] real solutions to some of today’s pressing environmental issues, and to share these finds with others so that [they] can effect real change, one garden and one field at a time.” [9] At the moment they only provide individuals in the United States and Canada with EM products, they do not ship anywhere else in the world.[10] Even though Canadians do not have many ways of obtaining the product themselves, if there is a bigger demand for it, more places will begin to produce it and sell it. This way, “The Organic Gardener’s Pantry” can potentially extend their company by shipping EM products to other parts of the world like Nepal. The export of EM to Nepal will not only bring money into “The Organic Gardener’s Pantry,” but will also create more jobs in Canada. There are also other companies around the world that supply EM product. The biggest one is “EM Research Organization” in Japan, which supplies most countries in the world except for Canada and the United States. Another supplier of EM products is “Teraganix” and they are located in the United States.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Government of Canada, "Municipal solid waste and greenhouse gases", Retrieved November 20, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Latin America EM Technology Portal, "What is EM technology", Retrieved November 20, 2014
  3. Higa T., "Effective microorganisms for sustainable community", Retrieved November 20, 2014
  4. The EM Research Organization, "What is EM?", Retrieved November 20, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sekeran, Balaji, Bhagabathipushpa (2005). "Evaluation of effective microorganisms (EM) in solid waste management". Electronic Green Journal 1 (21). https://escholarship.org/uc/item/56q5g376#page-1. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 The EM Research Organizationz, "EM products", Retrieved November 20, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 The EM Research Organization, "Application", Retrrieved November 20, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Government of Canada, "Canada-Nepal relations", Retrieved November 20, 2014
  9. Christina Nikolic, "About", Retrieved November 19, 2014
  10. Christina Nikolic, email, November 4, 2014
  11. The Compost Gardener, "Making Bokashi", Retrieved November 20, 2014