There’s more to compost than meets the eye. Many people think of compost as just dumping your veggie peels, yard waste and/or fruit rinds into a bin in your backyard, and then over time having it turn into a useful fertilizer for your garden. But did you know that you can compost a wide variety of materials outside of just food waste, and on a much larger scale? Commercial compost facilities allow us to compost a wide range of food wastes, as well as other materials like yard clippings, grease waste, and compostable bioplastic waste. Combining this with increasing awareness and education for composting at home provides an incredible opportunity for society to reduce the amount of waste in landfills, as well as create a much healthier waste product.
The basic differences between industrial compost and home compost are the volumes at which they can be performed, the conditions under which they occur, and the location where they occur. As per their names, home composting can be done in your own backyard (or anywhere in nature for that matter), while industrial composting occurs in specialized facilities where temperature and other factors can be controlled and adjusted. Home compost is meant for smaller volumes of waste (from a single household for instance), while industrial compost is for entire communities or municipalities, similar to your local landfill or dump. Industrial composting helps to divert food waste and other compostables from landfills, not only reducing the volume of waste in landfills, but helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions as well.
There are three popular methods of industrial composting: aerated windrow, aerated static, and covered in-vessel. Aerated windrows are long, tall piles of compost that are manually turned in order to allow all of the materials to spend time in the center of the pile where temperatures are highest and composting occurs quicker. Aerated static piles are similar to windrows in their set-up, however they are aerated passively by adding layers of wood chips or shredded newspaper, or an airflow pipe system. Finally, covered in-vessel composting requires the most equipment. The waste is placed into a large drum, trench, or other vessel where temperature, air flow and moisture can all be controlled. This provides a much faster compost process, however the pile must sit for a time period after the process is complete so the microbial community can balance and the pile can cool. Each method has pros and cons, but any of the three allow a community to divert immense volumes of waste from landfills, saving space and the planet.
At UrthPact, we truly believe in the power of compostables to save the planet. All of our product lines offer either commercially or home compostable versions. And we continue to move our products towards being 100% home compostable. It’s predicted that the amount of plastic in the oceans will TRIPLE by 2040 without extreme action. By moving certain industries to sustainable and compostable products, we have the opportunity to make a difference and truly save the world.