Establishing a formal composting waste program for leftover food
scraps and green, organic materials is something that is gaining
popularity and frequency in many municipalities and
neighborhoods in rural, urban, and suburban areas. A Composting
program can be an effective way to reduce waste disposal fees,
can contribute to replenishing the quality of soil, and helps to
save space in landfills for items that cannot be recycled.
However, before your city or town starts a composting program
for waste food and food scraps, it’s essential that some
research be done first.
Whether you’re starting a small composting program or a large
project, understanding and controlling these five composting
requirements will help to improve your chances for food waste
The first key to food composting success is to understand the
nutrient and feedstock balance. Successful decomposition of
organic matter requires a balance of “green” organic material
that is nitrogen-rich such as horse, cow, goat, chicken or other
farm animal manure, food waste and food scraps, grass clippings,
and “brown” organic materials that are carbon-rich such as wood
chips, branches, and dry leaves. Establishing the right nutrient
blend for your geographical location requires patience and
experimentation. If you get it right, you’ll have nutrient-rich
compost. If you get it wrong, you’ll send up with something that
resembles a bad-smelling pile of food waste!
The second factor to control for is the particle size. If you
fail to shred the compostable material the surface area won’t be
ideal for organisms to feast on and the breakdown will take much
longer or not at all. However, shredding material into very
small pieces will restrict the air flow and that can reduce the
composting process. Once again, you’ll need to experiment to
find what works best for your climate.
Moisture is also an important composting factor to remember. The
microorganisms living and eating their way through your compost
pile require moisture to survive. Depending upon the climate and
weather conditions in your region, occasional watering of your
compost pile may be necessary.
All living things require oxygen to survive and your compost
pile is a living thing. Regardless of the size of your compost
pile, it needs to be turned on a regular basis to monitor the
decomposition process and if necessary, adding in brown or green
It is helpful to monitor the temperature of the compost area as
microorganisms cannot survive when conditions are overly hot or
cold. Having an understanding of the weather and temperature
conditions will help you to plan the best place for a compost
pile and if additional support may be required during winter or
Composting food isn’t quite as easy as disposing of food in the
garbage, but once you understand the science and requirements,
you can help to improve the environment while save your business
or municipality money by removing food waste materials from the
Composting - General
the process by which organic matter is decomposed in a
controlled environment to become compost
matter being decomposed cannot be used in its original state due
to various reasons, but is useful when turned into compost.
Compost can be
beneficial to the environment by adding organic material to
soil, improving soil aeration and drainage, and increasing the
amount of nutrients the soil can hold.
saves money that would otherwise be spent on the disposal of the
organic waste, while also creating a useful by-product.
materials can be composted, including food wastes, grass
clippings, and certain by-products produced by food processing,
the paper and wood industries, and chemical production.
is a method used in composting where two different products are
composted together. This not only accelerates the amount of time
it takes for decomposition to occur, but also improves the
quality of the compost.
Keeping in mind the carbon to nitrogen ratio in the
products you compost will lead you to be able to make
higher-quality compost in a shorter amount of time.
exist for the sale of compost if enough is created.
composting is the easiest type of composting to implement. The
waste is piled in six foot high piles that are about 12 feet
wide. The windrow is turned to accelerate the process by
aerating the waste.
pile composting uses an air plenum, which the compost pile is
built on top of. The air flow is controlled mechanically,
therefore allowing larger compost piles than you can use with
windrow composting. A blower is attached to the system to
circulate air throughout the pile.
composting is generally the most expensive form of composting.
There are many different ways to do in-vessel composting, but
all include keeping the composting confined in containers and
using certain methods to accelerate the composting process. The
reason the costs are so high is because the material to build
proper containers is costly and the amount of maintenance and
operation needing to be done is very high and requires skilled
microorganisms in the organic material are what turn the waste
into compost. They break down the materials into less
biologically active compounds using a process called digestion.
Temperature, aeration, and moisture are the three things these
microorganisms need to be able to thrive and digest the waste.
The curing period occurs
after digestion. The compost decomposes much slower during this
phase and it’s very important that curing piles are turned.
Otherwise the compost may start to smell bad and compounds may
develop in the compost that will harm any plants the compost is
More on Composting
Organic materials (such as food, wood, and yard waste) make up
the majority of the solid waste we throw away, in both
residential and commercial environments. These materials could
be composted and reused instead of thrown away and added to the
Food waste is
the number one waste added to landfills.
When food waste
decays in landfills, it releases methane. Methane is a
greenhouse gas and is very dangerous to the environment.
away in regular dumpsters attracts insects and rodents. Food
should be stored in a leak-proof reusable bin while waiting to
beneficial because it reuses food scraps that would otherwise be
thrown away, not only taking them out of the waste stream, but
also using them to create another useful product.
be done on- or off-site, depending on how much waste you r
company creates, how much space you have for composting
machinery, whether you have enough employees to handle the task,
and whether or not you have a usage for the amount of compost
that would be created.
There are a few
different composting methods to choose from if you are
interested in starting your own on-site composting:
composting is good for companies who produce any volume of waste
and they take up less space than other composting methods.
-The vessel food waste is put into
is enclosed, with a controlled environment (which is
probably electrically regulated) inside. The equipment
generally will have a way to turn the enclosed waste so it
-In-vessel composters can be just
about any size, depending on how much waste is being
-Unlike other composting methods,
in-vessel composting can be done year-round because it’s
contained and the internal environment is controlled.
-Just about any kind of organic
waste can be composted with in-vessel composters.
It takes a
few weeks before the material is properly composted.
Windrow/Pile Composting is used for large amounts of waste.
-Organic materials are shredded and
placed in long piles or rows. These piles are turned by
hand or a machine.
-This method requires large amounts of
land and labor
amounts of waste are processed using this method, large amounts
of compost are formed.
Be ready to deal with this if you choose this method
Static Pile Composting is suitable for small amounts of waste.
-Cannot process meat or grease at all.
-Waste is all placed in one pile
instead of rows. Aeration is done by layering the pile with wood
chips so air can pass through the pile. Pipes may also be used
-This method needs much observation to
make sure the process is continually working correctly
-Compost is produced within 3 to 6
uses worms to break down organic wastes.
-This method is quick and produces a
very good compost
-Red worms and organic matter are
placed in a container together. Over time, the worms eat food
scraps and paper and turn it into a compost called castings,
which is used as potting soil.
-This is a relatively simple and quick
method of composting and the bind can be sized for the amount of
food waste they need to contain.