Composting Basics

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) total Municipal Solid Waste studies (2005-2009) estimated that in 2009, 34 million tons of food waste was produced. Out of the 34 million tons, only 3% was recycled, and the remaining 33 million was sent to our overflowing landfills. This means that each person produced 0.6 pounds of food waste per day with only 3% being recycled or composted. Our goal is to change that number and decrease the amount of food waste sent to our landfills.

Composting is an efficient and valuable way to decrease our environmental impact by quickly turning food and lawn waste into nutrient rich compost for lawns, gardens, and plants. In addition, it reduces the cost and environmental impact of transporting these waste products to landfills, as well. With an initial investment in the composting space and equipment, a long-term composting program can provide significant environmental as well as financial benefit to the Tri-Institutional community.

Composting can be performed in several ways, but urban composting usually consists of collecting non-animal food and lawn waste in bins that can quickly turn these materials into compost. It is a complex process that requires appropriate temperature, pH, and moisture that can be controlled with proper food waste and dry matter ratios as well as close monitoring of the system. With insulation, composting can be performed year-round. We will focus on two of the most efficient methods: tumbling composters and vermi-composting.


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