Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
NYS FOOD SYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY CLEARINGHOUSE

Compost

Compost
Left Column: 

What do I need to know?

  • Composting is the most widely used diversion process in New York State, but it should always be used in conjunction with prevention and donation whenever possible. In practice, however, many businesses will start diverting first and then work their way back up to prevention. 

 

What type of food is appropriate?

  • If it is organic material, it can be composted. There are misconceptions that certain foods like meat, dairy and seafood cannot be composted, because it is not recommended to do so on a backyard-composting scale. However, most industrial scale compost facilities will accept any type of food.

  • Paper, napkins, compostable bags, and biodegradable flatware and cups are not universally accepted at compost facilities, so be sure to check that your local facility accepts these materials, especially before making an investment in compostable ware.

Right Column: 

Practical Aspects

If you’re thinking of starting to compost at your business, there are some key things to consider:

  • Composting services range widely throughout New York State. This includes variations in:

    • pricing structure
    • hauling services
    • materials accepted (many composters accept only yard waste
    • quantities accepted
    • frequency of pick-up

Because of this, it is best to contact your local composter to find out accurate details. You can search for a composter near you here.

  • Source separation is key. To successfully compost at your business, you’ll need to effectively separate all the food waste from the rest of your municipal solid waste. More information on how to source separate can be found here.

  • Composting can be very easy when set up appropriately and will likely become second nature after some time. However, creating a successful system takes work up front. In simple terms, the easier it is for people to compost, the more success you will have with your compost. If you’re thinking about starting to compost, you should also be prepared to invest some time and resources in the following:

    • clear signage
    • bin placement
    • bin type
    • employee training
 

How do I get started?

Left Column: 

Benefits

When you compost your food waste instead of send it to landfill, you are contributing to many environmental benefits.

  • Reducing methane emissions.

Did you know? When food waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen (like in a landfill), it gives off methane gas – a powerful greenhouse gas many times more potent than CO2.

  • When compost is used as a soil amendment:

    • Increases moisture retention in soil
    • Reduces risk of erosion
    • Supports soil health
    • Boosts crop yields
    • Suppresses plant diseases, weeds, and pests
    • Reducing the need for chemical fertilizer
Right Column: 

 

Left Column: 

Other Infor​mation

Aerated Static Pile Composting

Aerated static pile composting involves layering organic materials with bulking agents in a large pile that has pipes running underneath it for aeration. This type of composting is suitable for large volumes of homogenous waste, but not for animal byproducts or grease. Less land is required for static pile composting than for windrow composting because the piles can be taller. 

Right Column: 

Aerated Static Pile Composting

Left Column: 

In-Vessel Composting

Right Column: 

In-Vessel Composting

In-vessel composting is a method that is suitable for small or large volumes of waste and can handle almost all types of organic waste. Large-scale in-vessel composting can be faster but more expensive than other forms of composting due to the equipment required to aerate and handle the compost.

Left Column: 

Aerated Windrow Composting

Aerated windrow composting involves long rows of compost that range from 14-16 feet wide and 4-8 feet tall. The piles are turned periodically to ensure adequate oxygen flow to the pile. This method of composting is suitable for large volumes of organic waste from communities and food processing businesses and can even handle grease and animal byproducts. Aerated windrow composting does require a large amount of land and the leachate produced does have the possibility to contaminate surface and ground water, but with proper infrastructure both of those concerns are easily handled.

Right Column: 

Aerated Windrow Composting

Left Column: 

Vermicomposting

Right Column: 

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting uses worms to aid the decomposition of organic material, as they provide the aeration by burrowing through the pile. This type of composting is more suitable for smaller quantities of organic waste and has the most restrictions for types of food waste.

Other Resources