Composting – What, Why & How to Compost ?
What is Compost ?
Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.
Natural composting, or biological decomposition, began with the first plants on earth and has been going on ever since. As vegetation falls to the ground, it slowly decays, providing minerals and nutrients needed for plants, animals, and microorganisms. Mature compost, however, includes the production of high temperatures to destroy pathogens and weed seeds that natural decomposition does not destroy.
Benefits of Composting:
- Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Promote higher yields of agricultural crops.
- Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils.
- Cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste.
- Remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff.
- Avoids Methane and leachate formulation in landfills.
- Capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air. See Innovative Uses of Compost: Bioremediation and Pollution Prevention.
- Provide cost savings of at least 50 percent over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable. See Analysis of Composting as an Environmental Remediation Technology
- Reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
- Serves as a marketable commodity and is a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments.
- Extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills.
Materials to be used for Composting
Food Waste – More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste (MSW). In 2010 alone, more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated, with only three percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. Reducing the amount of food wasted has significant economic, social & environmental benefits.
Yard & Wood Waste – When you throw yard waste away with your trash it is sent to a landfill where it takes up space and produces methane gas, which contributes to global climate change. Burning of yard waste, such as leaves and trimmings, creates air pollution and is a fire hazard. That is why many communities ban or restrict trashing or burning yard waste. Many communities now have drop-off sites or curbside collection programs for yard waste. Or better yet, don’t let your yard trimmings go to “waste” in the first place. so goes for the wood waste doing a home renovation project? Consider donating any unused or recoverable building materials to a charity in your area. You can also purchase recovered wood and recycling wood products. Clearing your land as part of routine maintenance or cleaning up after a storm?
BioSolids – Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge (the name for the solid, semisolid or liquid untreated residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment facility). When treated and processed, sewage sludge becomes biosolids which can be safely recycled and applied as fertilizer to sustainably improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth.