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Commercial Composting

Commercial Composting Methods Provide a Smart Solution to Disposal of Waste

Ever wonder about how much waste we really throw away each year? Well, studies estimate that 30 to 40 percent of the food produced in the United States goes to waste, often ending up in landfills. In 2014, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study found that the U.S. tosses over 3.8 million tons of food every single year.

That’s tragic because so many people in the world are going hungry. Food waste also contributes to global warming and disposing of it costs a lot of money. Using our food more efficiently would be a more permanent solution to the problem, but there are some things we can do to improve our disposal process as well. With composting, disposal doesn’t have to mean the end of food’s useful life and may even have some positive environmental attributes.

How Composting Works

Composting allows us to recycle organic materials, including many food items, yard waste, animal products and paper products. It uses a natural process that’s integral to life here on earth, the decomposition process that breaks down these materials into rich soil from which plants can grow.

Composting takes that natural phenomenon and accelerates it using one of several different methods. Individuals and families can compost their food and yard waste in their own backyards. Large companies sometimes compost their own leftover materials. Some local governments also organize composting operations, and local businesses might offer composting services to nearby residents. These services can be a perfect, easy-to-use solution to our organic waste disposal problem.

Composting Methods

Beyond simple backyard composting, there are a number of methods that large-scale composting operations employ.

1. Aerated Static Pile Composting

One of the simplest methods for composting large amounts of waste is aerated static pile composting. It involves placing well-mixed organic waste into a large pile, along with bulking agents such as woodchips or shredded paper. This method can produce compost within three to six months.

2. Aerated Windrow Composting

Aerated, or turned, windrow composting involves placing waste in rows that are about four to eight feet tall and 14 to 16 feet wide. These rows, called windrows, must be turned occasionally so that the inner part of the pile ends up in the outside and vice versa. This method is ideal for particularly large amounts of waste.

3. In-Vessel Composting

In-vessel compost allows for more control of the composting process and produces results quickly. In this method, compost is placed into contained spaces such as large drums, enclosed tunnels or other containers where machinery regularly turns it. This produces usable composts in a few weeks to a few months.

How to Get Involved

Other popular methods of disposing of household organic waste, such as garbage disposals, can be useful but don’t have all the same capabilities as composting. Garbage disposals, for instance, can’t handle solid items like peach pits. Regular trash collection has environmental consequences.

Composting can take care of many different kinds of waste, is environmentally friendly compared to other methods and produces a useful end result – compost that can be used to grow crops and other plants.

Many people don’t have room, time or ability to compost their own waste. For these people, commercial composting methods are the solution. Contact your local government and search for nearby businesses to see if organic waste collection and composting services exist in your area — and whether you can get some freshly made compost for your garden.

Bio:

Emily is a sustainability writer and the editor of Conservation Folks.

Please note…

This post was written by the contributor.

Read more about composting, compost bins and other rotten posts HERE

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Worm Bins

Composting is a great way to dispose of kitchen waste and reduce your carbon footprint, but what if you don’t have room for a compost bin? Worm bins are often touted as  the answer. This is as it sounds, a bin full of worms – worms that transform food scraps into compost. It can, so the adverts say, be kept in the kitchen. I always wanted to try worm composting so I sent off for a worm bin from the internet. It consisted of four stackable plastic boxes (the type found in stationers), a bag of worms and some food. It looked basic but it was considerably cheaper than the others.

I decided to keep mine in the garage. I stacked the boxes, tipped the worms in and left the lights on all night as per instructions. All went well till the night the lights were turned off. The stackable boxes did not form a sealed unit and there were numerous gaps through which the worms could escape. While it was bright outside the light sensitive worms stayed put, as soon as it got dark they left their bin and went exploring the garage. Next morning saw me picking up worms with the barbeque tongs while VB complained loudly about the desecration of his drill bits. He threatened to sacrifice the worms on the bird table if a solution wasn’t found.

So I fashioned a worm proof bin from the compost caddy. I installed a   drainage tap to drain off the worm tea (a juice created as the food in the bin rots down). I covered the base with  a layer of gravel so the worms didn’t drown in the tea and the compost didn’t block the tap outlet. It was rather like the one built here, the first bin,  Then I carefully decanted the worms  and wished them well in their new home.

Mindful of the bird table threats I moved the into  the cellar.

I mollycoddled those worms. I cut the food scraps up into worm size pieces and gave them ripped up newspaper and cardboard – apparently they delight in it. Nothing. Instead of piles of compost all I had was a bin full of festering food. The arrival of the fruit flies was the last straw. Fed up with the ungrateful liggers I capped the bin with soil and cut off food supplies.

A couple of weeks later I went down to get a hammer and found the bin standing in a lake of worm tea. Yay!

This fluid (it is claimed on many site), is  a superior plant feed and can be used to cure black spot on roses. There it was dribbling from my poorly fitted tap. It is a sign that the worm bin is working as it should. Indeed a quick rummage in the bin revealed healthy looking worms the size of anacondas. Worm tea was another reason I wanted a worm bin. Hundreds of sites on the internet claimed that this could be used as a fantastic liquid plant food. Plastic free plant food I thought. Turns out I was wrong.

So worm feeding resumed. By bin does not work fast enough to  make a meaningful  impact on our kitchen waste but it’s a start. Apparently it will increase with time. I don’t think I have the patience – but then I have a perfectly good compost bin in the garden.

And no wI find that worm tea might not be that good either.

“The watery drainage that seeps out of the bottom of a bin is not compost tea as many sites assert. Leaching through yet undigested food waste, this leachate (as it is known) could contain toxic anaerobic microbes that would be harmful to plants.

Not only will there be unmineralized organic compounds, but there is the potential for contamination of pathogen organisms and coliform bacteria that can come from some of the raw materials (another reason to always pre-compost fresh manure) put into worm bin systems.

The best place for this leachate to go is back in the bin. That way, it gets exposed to the worm’s gut to be innoculated with good microbes and is excreted fully sanitised.” Thanks Sierra Worm Compost!

Still fancy trying it?  If you decide to buy a worm bin my advice is to spend the extra. The more expensive bins boast such conveniences as worm proof lids – a definite bonus. There are hundreds of internet companies selling bins. Here’s one chosen at random.

If you want to make a bin, there are good instructions here. I recommend the first option, the bin with the tap, rather than the second, the stackable boxes.

This is a good article on worm composting and how to get worms for free.  N.B. the home made bin looks rather like the one I bought, the leaky one.

More

If you want to keep your bin outside you have to protect it from extreme heat and cold. There may be better outdoor options.

Don’t like worms but fancy composting? Read this intro 

 

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Friends who compost…

Don’t fancy composting yourself? Neither did Jen! So she found a super green option! Heres an extract from her post

I have to be honest – I put off composting for a long time. We have a small garden and I didn’t want to pong it out with a large
bin of old rotting food. Plus I’m not paricularly green fingered. At most, I’ll have a pot of herbs in the kitchen, which sometimes I accidentally kill. I’m not sure I would use the resulting soil.

So I found a person locally who was willing to pick up my compost.

There’s a website called Streetlife “the local social network” where you can communicate with your community.

Read more here

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This would be a good use for Bokashi Bins. These bins let you store masses of kitchen waste before it needs collecting and composting elsewhere. More on Bokashi Bins here

Do fancy composting? Read this intro 

 

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Compost Bin – underground

You can put ALL your food waste into your Green Cone including meat, fish, bones, dairy products, vegetables and fruit. There are so many good reasons to compost not least because you can dispense with bin liners.

“The waste is digested rather than composted and is primarily reduced to water. This nutrient rich water enters the soil under the base of the digestion unit. There is no need to turn waste over like in a traditional composter.

For anyone who does not have the time to compost, the Green Cone is the ultimate waste food disposal solution. Most Green Cones produce so little residue that they will need cleaning only once every few years.

Features
Composts ALL food waste
Completely natural process
No need to turn waste over”

Composting at it’s easiest, though perhaps not it’s most attractive!

You can buy them from Even Greener who claim that

  • 4. CREDENTIALS Most of our products are made in the UK in our own factory.
  • 5. GREEN MANUFACTURE Most of our compost bins and water butts are made from recycled plastic using renewable energy.
  • 6. PRICE GUARANTEE Find it cheaper elsewhere and we will refund the difference.*
  • 7. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED Not 100% delighted? Return your goods within 30 days for a full refund.**

 

See more composting posts here

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Bokashi Bins

Because I love all things compost, I invested in a Bokashi kit – two bins with taps and bokashi bran.

Lots of articles you read will say that you can use a bokashi bin to make compost. NO YOU CAN NOT. At least not in the sense that word is usually used. You can use it to make pickled, partially-dehydrated, fermented waste. However the resulting material still needs to be aged in soil or  a compost bin before it can be used on the garden.

This is a  two stage process.

BUT you can use the bokashi process to store a lot of food waste for weeks in a small bucket before further composting it. So what’s is the point of that?

  • It makes a green waste collection service viable.
  • Bokashi juice it is claimed makes a great house plant feed though some dispute that.
  • Reduces trips to the compost bin if your bin is on your allottment say.
  • It is a good way to start the decomposition process

How it works

The bokashi bin is a Japanese system that pickles your waste.

  • You put the waste in a bin ( can be anything including meat)
  •  press it down hard  and sprinkle with bacteria (bokashi) laced bran.
  • The bacteria begin to pickle your waste.
  • As it does so the waste begins to ooze juice. This you drain off. This juice can be used as a liquid feed.
  • Once the bucket is full you leave it to stand.
  • You can fit two weeks waste of two people (who cook fresh everyday) into one bucket.

What to do with your pickled waste?

  • You can feed it to the worms in your worm bin. Bokashi is claimed to help in  a limited space worm composting system. Compressing food waste means you can fit so much more in your worm bin and because it is part broken down, they deal with it more quickly.
  • You can put it on the compost heap again benefitting from reduced space requirements and increased composting times
  • You can dig it into the soil but you need to bury it deep to avoid attracting hungry animals who will dig it back up again. Personally I cannot see the point in that!
  • Not tried this  you can also bury your fermented food waste in an enclosed bin or box. Best to use a bin that has at least a 20 gal capacity. Start by adding 1″ of soil to bottom of bin. Next, add your fermented food waste. Add some more soil on top of that and mix it in with the food waste. Pour 3″-4″ inches of soil on top of food waste, soil mixture and pack it down. Cover the bin. Food waste should be completely broken down and ready to plant in 4-5 weeks. You can continue to stack additional fermented waste on top until your bin is full. Plant  your favorite veggies directly in bin when food waste has been completely broken down.
  • here are links to people who do this in the U.K.  “You add the pickled veg to the bottom of a pot or mix it in with the compost. You then need to let it settle for a couple of weeks, but then you can grow in it. The pickled veg rots down very quickly once in the soil. Basically, bokashi vastly accelerates the decomposition process – so although you don’t get ready made compost out of it, it is well on its way. Personally I prefer to use worm compost, but bokashi is a useful alternative.”

I can testify that bokashi bins work really well for storing waste but because my compost bin is so great,(it can compost anything and is rat proof), and is close by ( just at the end of our very small garden) I don’t really have much use for my Bokashi bin.

I do use it very cold winters when the daily trip to the bin is just too horrid.

I thought I was getting a good deal with the liquid feed but this article suggest otherwise.  “The majority of nutrients in food scraps is contained in large molecules like protein, DNA, carbohydrates, fats, oils etc. Since bokashi does not break down the food scraps these nutrients are still bound up in large molecules at the end of the bokashi process. That is why an apple still looks like an apple at the end of the process. The nutrients will not get released until the future composting process is completed.”

Interesting stuff as is this.  Bokashi in way more detail

Buy

You can buy bokashi bins from Even Greener who claim that

  • 4. CREDENTIALS Most of our products are made in the UK in our own factory. Including these bins.
  • 5. GREEN MANUFACTURE Most of our compost bins and water butts are made from recycled plastic using renewable energy.
  • 6. PRICE GUARANTEE Find it cheaper elsewhere and we will refund the difference.*
  • 7. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED Not 100% delighted? Return your goods within 30 days for a full refund.**

Make

If you are handy you can apparently make everything yourself including bokashi bran. I have never tried but seen online links.

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Cup to Compost – National trust, Boscastle

Our tour in the plastivan took us through Boscastle, a lovely old harbour and coastline maintained by the fantastic National Trust. In addition to keeping footpaths open and other essential maritime maintenance, they operate a cafe shop and visitor center (with immaculate toilets), down by the harbour. So far so good!

Not so good was that the cafe was using disposable paper cups! Eeek! As you know, most paper cups are in fact plastic lined and so not very disposable. Bah! Was just about to turn round and leave when I noticed that these cups were from Vegware. Vegware dont line their cardboard cups with the usual conventional non biodegradable plastic but a certified compostable lining. You can read more here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now I wanted to take photos! And ask lots of questions! Which Jon kindly answered.  As he says”… when the cafe first opened in 2009, there wasn’t a modern conventional sewage system in Boscastle, and all the waste that would normally go for treatment went straight into the sea. Because of this, we were reluctant to have a commercial dish washer in the cafe that would have just contributed to this waste, and so looked for viable alternatives. Finding a fully compostable solution in the cups, cup sleeves, plates and wooden cutlery was part of the solution to this problem, but without making sure that they were composted afterwards it wouldn’t have been such a positive environmental statement from what is, after all, a conservation charity…. we collect the cups, cup holders, plates and the untreated wooden cutlery that we use, and they are taken to a local farmer who shreds them. He then mixes them with his green waste and composts them into a peat free mulch substitute. This mulch is hen taken to the National Trust plant nurseries at Lanhydrock House near Bodmin, who grow, amongst all the other plant, the plants that are sold in the National Trust shop that adjoins the cafe in Boscastle. By doing it this way, we not only successfully recycle the disposables from the national Trust Cafe in Boscastle, but we contribute to saving the limited resources of peat bogs.”

Well done you!

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Dog poop bags and composting waste

This is something I really hate …. plastic bags of dog @*%! hanging from the bushes.

But then plastic bags of dog poop anywhere are a bad idea and a big problem!

According to PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association) the dog population of the U.K., in 2014, stood at 9 million. The average dog according to Streetkleen produces 340g of fecal matter per day x 9,000,000 dog population = 3,060 tonnes of poo per day x 365 days per year =1,111,900 tonnes of dog poo annually.

Why Not Landfill?

Putting plastic bags of poop in landfill is problematic for the following reasons

  • Biodegradable waste does not do well in the unnatural conditions of landfill. It bubbles away producing methane another more potent greenhouse gas.
  • The non biodegradable waste, plastic, is there for ever.
  • As of April 2016 Landfill Tax is £84.40 per tonne . At over a million tons that poop costs a lot.
  • we are running out of holes

What to do?

But how do you dispose of dog poop  responsibly and environmentally?

This might be an answer –use compostable plastic bags such as  BioBag dog bags and get a pet poop composter. You can read more about compostable plastics here and you can find cheaper than Biobags by Googling.

Pet poop composter

I believe that composting is the future. A household that can turn its own waste into food for the plants is truly sustainable and delightfully green. And who wouldn’t want to be any of those?  I have a number of compost bins BUT I don’t have a pet so cannot try this. I thought of getting a puppy but apparently  they are for life, not just for composting.

How they work…

Now as I understand it, the pet waste composter is a bin set in the ground. Chuck the pop in and nature will deal with it naturally. It will compost away. Just to reiterate, the resulting material is left in place. It is not meant to be used as compost, rather that the composting process is used to naturally dispose of dog poop!

Have a look at these ready made dog waste composters. You bury it in the back garden and drop in the poop.

Here is an Australian product called Yard Art in action

Here is a home made one

And an  article,  you can read on the subject.
Using the Compost…nooooooooo

MATT SULLIVAN writes a thoughtful and informative piece about the joys and perils of pet poop composting. As he says “several writers discourage pet owners from the practice at all. Others gave specific warnings of not using the final composted product in any edible gardens. A handful wrote that the compost from domestic animals was safe and could be used in vegetable crops.”

But, despite doom laden warnings, he goes ahead and uses worms to compost his dog dirt. It’s a success and he concludes that “even if you have no desire to add compost to your garden, I believe it makes sense to be a good steward of your animals. You feel good, help out the environment, and have an excuse to spend time outside.”

Wise words.

English: A worm composting bin. Worms are eati...

A worm composting bin. Worms are eating the newspaper bedding and producing compost. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

More

You can find hundreds of different composting methods here  including links to worm bins and underground composers.

This is an interesting idea – biogas from dog poo. 

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Compost Bin basic – cheap but rats!

I’ve had my compost bin for 14 months now and I am very pleased with it. I use it for garden litter which saves on boring trips to the tip, and kitchen waste which it gobbles up by the bucket load. This, rather than compost, is what I bought it for. Biodegradable waste does not do well in the unnatural conditions of a rubbish dump. It bubbles away producing methane which adds to the greenhouse effect. Simply by putting my kitchen waste in a different bin I am reducing my carbon footprint.

It is also a practical investment for the future. The Uk government is committed to reducing the amount of biodegradable waste in landfill by 50%, by the year 2020; I don’t know how they plan to do this – compulsory composting perhaps? Separate waste collections? Investing in herds of municipal swine? Whatever – as 30% of uk domestic waste is organic this is bound to affect us all. Setting up a home composting system seems a sensible precaution.

There are many different ways to compost, from the traditional heap at the bottom of the garden to micro biological systems. Being new to composting I chose the easiest and cheapest option – a plastic bin stood in the garden. I got mine from Kirklees Council in partnership with Recycle Now. Recycle Now offer advice on all things pertaining to compost. They also sell a range of composting bins which, if you are a Kirklees resident, you can buy at a subsidised rate. There are some real bargains to be had.

As a waste disposal unit my compost bin was fantastic and massively reduced the amount going in my black bin.

The the RATS arrived!

Now I had been extremely careful what I put in it. No cooked food or dairy was to be found in there but seems the rats liked salad.

I stopped putting food waste in but the rats stayed. It was like a kind of rat hive in there.

And they ate everything I gave them, even the Leylandii hedge clippings. Now while I admire anything that can eat,and apparently enjoy Leylandii, I cant stand rats.

So I went out and  got myself a Green Johanna   compost bin. It is considered to be the rolls Royce of compost bins, and  is priced appropriately. However it claimed to be rat proof. You can read about it here

The black bin was abandoned till everything in it turned to compost. It was then moved to the allotment where it is happy eating leaves and other gardening detritus.

 

Compost bin in a kitchen cupboard

I am lucky enough to have a garden where I can keep  my compost bin. However if you don’t have the space, you could try one of these and compost in your kitchen.How it works?

composter composter2

Naturemill Automatic Compost Bin.

Two chamber design: So clean and easy, you can even compost indoors. Add food at any time into the  upper  chamber. Heat, mixing, and oxygen help the natural  cultures  break down the food within days – before odors  develop. Push a button to transfer  to the  tray below. It will continue to compost there for another week, while you fill  the upper chamber again. Remove the tray at your convenience.

Here is a Treehugger review

Buy

This company are based in America though the company does list European suppliers

David Tapley might sell them in the UK and possibly this guy on Amazon.

Why

Why compost – well it means no more plastic bin liners, along with numerous other benefits.

More

You can find a whole load of other ways to compost here

 

 

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Compost Bin the Green Johanna

I started composting with a simple black bin, the economy discounted version from the council. I chucked the food in and it biodegraded down into brown sticky stuff.  For 14 months all was well – then the rats arrived. I stopped putting (uncooked) food waste in but the rats stayed. 

So I went out and  got myself a Green Johanna   compost bin.

Considered to be the rolls Royce of compost bins, and  is priced appropriately.

However it claimed to be rat proof and able to compost everything including cooked food waste and bones.

Wincing slightly I parted with the cash and it duly arrived flat packed ready for us to erect.

The full kit Includes:
1 x Mixing stick
4 x Outer rings
1 x Lid
1 x Base
2 x Doors
1 x Bag of fixing screws
1 x Instruction manual

It was easy to install and looked just like an ordinary compost bin. Except it had a floor. It came with  complex sounding  instructions which we ignored, and a stirring stick we rarely used. Despite this it worked fine.

Two years later I can confirm that it can dispose of a chicken carcasses, lamb shanks a dead rat and PLA plastic pots. The live rats have left – moved on to find more accessible bins no doubt.

Plastic we use….

This compost bin is made of plastic and I am fine with that because I think that plastic is the best man for the job. It is waterproof, rot proof, light weight, and best of all, RAT PROOF.

More importantly it keeps a lot of biodegradable rubbish out of landfill which reduces our carbon foot print.

We will also get some compost for the garden so reducing our reliance on manufactured fertilizers.

Its worth it.

More

Fancy composting? Want something cheaper? Read this intro