Sizing Your Commercial Composting Needs
If you head up a business or organization, and you are looking to do your part for the environment, you should look into ways in which you can start composting—or increase your current composting efforts—in order to reduce the amount of food scraps and other organic waste that you’re sending to landfill.
Working with commercial composting customers throughout North America has showed me that there is no “one size fits all” solution for companies looking to get started with organics recycling.
The first step is determining what type of organics your business generates and how much of it your business generates. Certain haulers and composters only accept certain items, so it is important to match the materials you are generating with the right off-taker. How much you generate will determine whether you need 32-gallon carts, 64-gallon carts, or something bigger like a dumpster or compactor. Some folks have packaged items that require special transport and processing considerations. Where your business is located will determine what your options are for hauler partners and end destinations.
Just remember to minimize contamination because composting is a manufacturing process. If the material you are generating is contaminated with trash, metal, plastic, glass, or more, your program might be shut down.
If you’re a small business, your composting needs may align with methods that are typically used by individual households more so than those that are sought-out by larger commercial organizations. These methods can include:
- Building a small outdoor composting pile
- Starting a vermicomposting system, where earthworms help create rich soil
- Participating in a small-scale community-based composting program
Large organizations will benefit more from more personalized, industrial composting/reuse methods, especially if your premises are in an urban environment. These methods can include:
- Donating edible food to a local food bank and food donation agencies
- Sending food scraps to a farm where it can be used as animal feed
- Sending your food waste and other organic material to a commercial composting facility
For more information on the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, take a look at their page online.
Ryan Cooper is a Waste Diversion Manager and the Organics Recycling Lead at Rubicon, a technology company that powers a digital marketplace, provides a suite of SaaS products for waste, recycling, and smart city solutions, and collects and analyzes data for businesses and governments worldwide.