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Expanding Community Composting

Making Ohio rules, regulations and laws t our goals as planners

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency updates their rules on a 5-year cycle. In Feburary 2011, OEPA released draft rules for Chater 3745-27 pertaining to composting regulation. The reorganization called for an entirely new chapter (3745-560) and made a few changes to the reporting requirements for commercial facilities. The resulting public comment period included comments from dozens of individuals, groups and local government agencies regarding the impact of current rules on composting in community gardens and a desire to see such activities waived from future rules.

Combining community gardens and waste stream reduction
Composting, the decomposition of organic materials into a fertilizer, has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the past several years due to several factors including expanding popularity of community gardens, increasing desire to pursue home gardening due to the recession and high food prices, e orts to reduce our reliance on land lls by removing food waste from the waste stream Community gardens also provide a plethora of bene ts for their communities including greater access to healthy food, promotion of community interaction, higher property values and more. By promoting composting within community gardens, we have an amazing opportunity to drastically expand both activities in our inner cities as well as communities across the state. By doing so, we can make our communties stronger in a social, economic and environmental sense.

Problem: Unsustainable food waste adds to our land lls
US Food Waste Generated
(Per person per day)
5 4.5 4 3.5 3

The research for the project was divided into three key questions: 1. How are community gardens currently dealing with their composting needs and activities? 2. What Ohio municipalities and what other states have existing laws regarding community gardens and what do those laws say about composting on those sites? 3. What does a typical community garden ordinance look like and how can we encourage their use?

US Recycling/Composting Rate
Recycled 3% (Food Scraps, 2009)

US Land ll Contents by Type
(2009) Glass Wood 5% 7% Rubber, Leather and Textiles 8% Metals 9% Other 3% Paper 28%

2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 1 Waste (lbs) 2.68 0 2 2.96 3 3.25 4 3.25 5 3.66 6 4.83 7 4.57 8 4.52 9 4.72 10 4.67 11 4.63 12 4.34

Landfilled 97%

Plastics 12%

Yard Trimmings 14%

Food Scraps 14%

NEW RULES New rules which allow small-scale composting facilities, based on area, to be exempt from many current composting regulations which are primarily intended for commercial-scale facilities. These new rules, which are currently in draft form, are based o the research obtained from other states as well as investigation into the typical size and character of community garden composting operations. The new rules will allow community composting on a small scale of less than 300 square feet. - a Noti cation of Intent (NOI) will be required from those composting food scraps. ZONING GUIDANCE DOCUMENT A guidance document for organizations looking to establish local ordinances permitting and protecting community gardens and community composting. This guide is designed to help these organizations pass local ordinances which will protect their gardens and encourage the implementation of additional gardens in their jurisdictions. This document will allow for local organizations to take the lead and provide further credibility to the local food and composting movements by building legal support via grassroots e orts.

Solution: Expanded composting access and capacity
For Select Counties in Ohio

Current Sites: 5 Approx. Expanded Sites: 224 Expanded Population with Access: 823,000 Potential Composting Area (Sq Ft): 67,200

Current Sites: 1 Approx. Expanded Sites: 117 Expanded Population with Access: 844,000 Potential Composting Area (Sq Ft): 35,100

Current Sites: 0 Approx. Expanded Sites: 48 Expanded Population with Access: 249,000 Potential Composting Area (Sq Ft): 14,400

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Food Scrap and Composting Statistics Source: State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency: Current Composting Sites Source: US Census Bureau 2010: Population Impact

Source: American Community Gardening Association: Central Ohio garden locations Source: Ohio State University Extension - Cuyahoga County: Cuyahoga garden locations Source: Luci Beachdell - City of Dayton: Dayton area community garden locations

Christopher Germain - MCRP 2012