waste that ends up in landfills or combustors. Inaddition, compost is a valuable product that canbe used as a soil additive for backyard gardensand farm lands or in highway beautification andother landscape projects.The benefits don’t end there—composting alsomakes good economic sense. Composting canreduce a community’s solid waste transporta-tion, disposal, and processing costs. In manycommunities, residents pay for each bag or canof trash they put out for pickup. If a householdis composting, it will most likely put less in trashcans and will pay a smaller trash bill.In backyards and on the community level, inter-est in composting has increased rapidly over thepast several years. Yard trimmings programsconstitute the large majority of compostingoperations in the United States. In these pro-grams, community members place their yardtrimmings in a separate bag or container at thecurb, which is collected and taken to a munici-pal composting facility. These facilities createlarge amounts of compost, which, in manycases, is sold back to community members.People can also purchase compost created byprivate composting companies.
What Are theChallenges Associated With Composting?
Creating quality compostrequires the right mix of mate-rials and attention to moisture,particle size, and temperature.Too little moisture will slow thedecomposition, but too muchcan create odor problems. Toavoid attracting pests androdents, composters shouldmonitor the food scraps put inthe compost pile. Meat scraps,fats, and oils are difficult itemsto compost, attract pests, andshould be kept away from thecompost pile, and thrown awayinstead.While composting increases the rate of naturalorganic decomposition, it still takes months for compost to mature. If compost is used while it isstill “cooking,” the high temperatures could killthe plant life on which it is spread. In addition,using compost before it is ready can encourageweed growth because the high temperatures of the pile have not had a chance to kill anypotential weed seeds.
What Are Some Emerging Trendsin Composting?
A large amount of organic waste is created byinstitutions, restaurants, and grocery stores—perfect for compost. Across the country, many of
What Can Go Into a Composting Bin?
This list is not meant to be all inclusive. Some food products should not be included because they can attract pests or compromise the quality of the compost.
deFruit and vegetable scraps MeatsTea bags Dairy foodsWool and cotton rags BonesCoffee grounds with filters FatsGrass/Yard clippingsPet excrementLeavesDiseased plantsEgg shellsGreaseSawdustOils (including peanutFireplace ashbutter and mayonnaise)Nonrecyclable paper Vacuum cleaner lintFish scraps
EPA: The Quest for Less