Commercial composting facilities provide the best composting conditions. Many organic wastes, like meat and bio-plastics, can only be composted under ideal conditions. So if your establishment uses bio-plastics or serves a lot of meat or high fat foods, a commercial composting facility is a good option for properly managing your organic waste.
Ideal Composting Conditions
Commercial composting facilities properly maintain and regulate their piles to assure ideal composting conditions exist.
- Temperature. Commercial facilities regularly turn or aerate their piles and monitor the internal temperature to assure it is between 105° and 145°F.
- Air flow. Regulating airflow to the heaps helps maintain proper temperature and assures that the microorganisms receive enough oxygen to survive and reproduce.
- Moisture content. As with air, the microorganisms require adequate moisture levels to survive. Commercial facilities regularly monitor the moisture content of their piles and add more if necessary.
- Balanced mixture. Proper composting requires a balance between nitrogen and carbon containing materials. Compost farms have several different sources from which to pull, so they are able to have enough of each in their piles.
Benefits of Commercial Composting
- Convenience. For some, sending organic waste to a commercial facility is easier than investing in an on-site composter.
- Regulation. Government regulations are in place to assure that commercial composting facilities control against disease and groundwater pollution.
- Diversity. Many materials like meats and dairy products can be composted at commercial facilities.
- Bio-plastics can be composted. In order to be deemed compostable, new eco-friendly bio-plastics can only be composted fast enough under the ideal conditions present in commercial facilities.
Drawbacks to Commercial Composting
- Transportation. Though it depends on the facility, some commercial composters may not have a waste hauling program; they only accept but do not collect. So you may have to contract with a local waste handler or transport your organic waste to the facility yourself.
- Availability. Currently there are not many commercial composting facilities operating. But as the desire to divert organic waste from landfills increases, more compost farms will become available.
- Runoff. All compost piles require moisture, but if there is too much water, it can pollute nearby streams and underground aquifers.
- Bio-solids. Bio-solids are the organic material produced by waste water treatment plants. This can be composted along with other organic waste, but compost containing sewage treatment sludge cannot be used to grow plants that will eventually be consumed by animals or humans.
New composting technology is emerging that allows commercial composting conditions to be produced on-site. Though very expensive, these technologies can greatly benefit large food service establishments like hospitals and college campuses.