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Industrial Composting: Reasons for Change
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Operations and Technology
Environmental Regulations
Reasons for Change
Acknowledgements
Terms & Definitions
Complete List of Links

What are the benefits for adopting a composting state of mind?

Composting has longevity and is environmental sustainable and economically sound.

However, composting is viewed a form of waste management which produces a stabilized product from organic material such as municipal solid waste (MSW), agricultural waste, food waste, leaf and yard waste, sewage sludge waste and industrial waste. 70 percent of U.S municipal solid waste (MSW) stream is organic material and 23 percent of it is yard trimming and food waste which is being dispose of in landfills and incinerators.

This data does not include agricultural waste, sewage sludge, or industrial waste stream, which is also disposal of in the same manner. In 2003 the United States generated approximately 236.2 millions tons of MSW an increase of 0.7 million tons from 2002. In 2003 the United States recycle 53.4 millions tons and increase of 3.3 million tons from 2002; excluding composting.

Including composting technology then U.S recycled 69.9 millions tons of MSW in 2003; which indicates a 24 percent increase of recycled MSW based on this technology. (EPA 2003 Facts and Figures Executive Summery) Therefore; composting can significantly decrease the volume of MSW stream going to landfills and incinerators and moreover freeing up space in landfills for materials that cannot be composted. Over the past 40 years recycling and composting efforts have increase as shown in Table 1.

Table 1

GENERATION; MATERIAL RECOVERY; COMPOSTING;

AND DISCARDS OF MUICIPAL SOLID WASTE; 1960-2003

(in millions of tons)

Millions of Tons

 

1960

1970

1980

1990

1995

1998

1999

2000

Generation

88.1

121.1

151.6

205.2

211.4

223.4

231.0

231.9

Recovery for recycling

5.6

8.0

14.5

29.0

45.3

48.0

50.1

53.4

Recovery for composting*

Neg.

Neg.

Neg.

4.2

9.6

13.1

14.7

16.5

Total Materials Recovery

5.6

8.0

14.5

33.2

54.9

61.1

64.8

69.9

Discards after Recovery

82.5

113.0

137.1

172.0

156.5

162.3

166.2

162.00

*Composting of yard trimming and food scraps. Does not include mixed MSW composting or backyard composting

Details may not add to totals due to rounding

Source: Franklin Associates; Ltd.; EPA530-S-02-001-Tabel-ES)

 

Environmental Benefits:

The environmental benefits of compost additions to soil are physical, chemical and biological.  Physical benefits include improved soil tilth and infiltration capacity, chemical nenefits include buffered pH and increased CEC, and biological benefits include enhanced disease suppression and improved ecodiversity.  Compost can be used as: a natural soil amendment; pollution prevention; pollution remediation; storm-water runoff prevention; reduce erosion; wetland restoration; habitat revitalization; reduce the use of chemical fertilizers; bioremediation; reduce the amount of methane gases release from landfills; decrease of leachate ; and reduces cost for the community and industry.

Economic Benefits: 

The economic benefits of composting material are enormous for communities and industries.

Eliminate or decrease tipping fees depending if organic material is being diverted to another location verse onsite composting. Decrease landfill disposal charges; tax benefits; using the product on site, which will decrease or eliminate purchase of chemical fertilizers; cost of permits for disposals and selling a useful compost to multiples industries.  Improved performance under ISO 14001 reduces an "environmental footprint".


 

The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Industrial Composting Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange
Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange
Contact email: abray@newmoa.org

Hub Last Updated: 3/10/2009