Industrial Compostable, Home Compostable, what is the difference?
Simply defined: compost is a mixture that consists primarily of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land.
Scientific definition: “compost is the biological degradation process of heterogeneous solid organic materials under controlled moist, self-heating, and aerobic conditions to obtain a stable material that can be used as organic fertilizer.”
Heat, moisture, and air are all part of the composting process. The ability to monitor these three components and methods, along with the type of materials used is where you will see the differences begin to show up.
Four Composting Methods
- Aerated (Turned) Windrow Composting
- Aerated Static Pile Composting
- In-Vessel Composting
Vermicomposting is all about worms and organic material. Earthworms are used to break down organic materials.
“Worm dirt” is the final product, a rich organic fertilizer with many soil benefits.
Aerated (Turned) Windrow Composting
This method consists of piling organic waste into long piles called windrows.
The pile is periodically turned over to aerate the windrows.
“Large volumes of diverse wastes such as yard trimmings, grease, liquids, and animal byproducts (such as fish and poultry wastes) can be composted through this method.”
Aerated Static Pile Composting
Piles are made where the bacterial process can begin breaking down the materials, and air is added to the piles to lower the moisture levels to keep the temperatures high.
The piles can be aerated by adding paper products to create air space or piping is used to blow air into the piles.
This method uses varied sizes of silos, or trenches where large amounts of waste can be collected into a relatively small space and turned mechanically while monitoring the conditions that speed up the composting processes.
There are factors involving heat, type of materials, and volume of materials that go into each type of composting method. Weather can determine how the waste is stored, covered, or uncovered, moisture levels and heat levels are monitored and adjusted accordingly.
Where Does the Waste Come From
Consumers have made demands, municipalities have had to make decisions, and cities and states have made rules and regulations, all because of the sheer amount of materials that are discarded. Food waste and packaging can pile up quickly.
Restaurants, grocery stores, and homes all have a trail that leads to a landfill, and the landfills are overburdened from so much food waste.
Redistribution and composting are two ways that are being used to lower the amounts that find its way to the landfill.
This is where the industrial composting facilities come in.
Composting on a large scale becomes part of the infrastructure.
Education, labeling, a bit of cooperation and patience are necessary in making sure the right materials get to the facilities.
More industrial facilities could be on the horizon and already needed.
So to answer the question, what is the difference between industrial and home composting?
The end product is practically the same. An organic fertilizer compost that is used as fertilizer and soil amendment.
The differences are:
- The time it takes to breakdown massive amounts of materials is lowered in facilities
- Temperatures that are needed to breakdown certain materials can only come from a managed and monitored facility
- Materials can be composted through industrial facilities that won’t breakdown in home compost piles
- Large-scale composting facilities can produce and resale finished compost to the communities
Time, temperature, type of materials, and monitored management are the main differences.