Composting is a great way to cut down on excess organic waste. It is estimated that around 30% of the waste we throw away is comprised of organic scraps such as food and yard clippings. By turning this waste into compost, it helps to reduce methane emissions from landfills, while adding nutrient rich material back into the soil. For beginning gardeners, this is a great way to reduce plant disease and pests, while keeping soil healthy.
We know that not everyone can compost in their own backyard. On average, about 20% of Americans live in apartment housing. That can make it more difficult to create and manage an efficient compost pile. However, did you know that there are many municipal composting programs throughout the U.S.?
To reduce the amount of waste in our nation’s landfills, many organizations offer community composting initiatives to collect organic scraps from residents in their area. This generally follows a standardized process in which the waste is collected via curbside drop-off before being taken to a larger facility.
Once at the facility, there are a few ways that the waste can be composted. This includes:
- Windrows: a process where waste is piled into long rows and aerated by manually turning the pile.
- In-vessel: a process where waste is placed inside a drum or silo where environmental conditions are mechanically controlled. This method typically allows for the breakdown of harder materials like dairy, meat, and bones.
- Aerated static pile: a process where waste is mixed into a large pile that is layered with “bulking agents” such as branches, wood chips, or shredded newspaper. This setup allows air to easily pass through the pile with the help of pipes placed underneath.
Depending on the process, the compost can take a few weeks to a few months before it is ready for the garden. This is largely dependent on how long it takes for the compost to cool. Larger cities and counties may offer a municipal composting program that is administered by the local government. However, there are private companies that also offer these services. We recommend checking with your local composting coordinator to verify what types of organic waste they will accept into their program.
We are currently working on setting up a publicly accessible database that will host contact information for municipal composting programs across the U.S. The launch date is still being determined, but our goal is to have it available next month.
By the way, we are offering a free set of filters with the purchase of a composter. Just use the code GWPBZFILTER at checkout to claim yours! Offer expires Monday, May 31st, at 11:59pm EST.