Composting for Municipalities: Planning and Design Considerations

Publication Number: NRAES-94
Cost: $20.00
Length: 126 pages

Composting for Municipalities contains seven chapters that cover the major aspects of compost facility design and operation. Chapter topics include composting options (such as the composting methods and technologies available to municipalities); planning a municipal compost facility (including assembling a planning team, conducting a market survey, and identifying potential costs); siting a new facility; obtaining feedstock for composting (including sorting and separating mixed municipal solid waste); making compost; marketing compost; and managing a facility for long-term success. Information presented in the eight planning and contract documents, physical and chemical characteristics of commonly composted raw materials, a compost pad area calculation, and a listing of handy conversion factors. Also included in the book are 41 illustrations, 15 tables, numerous sample calculations, a glossary, and a list of resources for additional information.

Composting, a managed treatment process that turns biodegradable waste material into a soil-like substance called compost, may be able to help municipalities with the increasingly complex task of managing the waste stream. Specifically, composting has the potential to decrease the amount of waste disposed of in landfills; lessen environmental hazards (through reduced emissions from incinerators and leachate from landfills); help achieve compliance with state-mandated recycling goals; and produce a clean, organic product with a number of potential uses and markets. The publication, Composting for Municipalities: Planning and Design Considerations, NRAES-94 ($18.00 plus shipping and handling, November 1998, 136 pages) was written to help municipal planners decide whether composting fits their waste management goals and objectives.

This 136-page publication will provide policy makers and municipal planners with information about the basic principles, current practices, and potential benefits of composting as well as guidance in the planning, design, and operation of a municpal composting facility. The publication will also be useful to compost facility operators and technicians (for help in managing facilities and improving operations); consultants and designers; regulators and enforcement agencies; and other community stakeholders wishing to learn more about the role composting can play in municipal solid waste management. The publication was designed for use as a home-study guide or a textbook for classes and workshops.

Composting for Municipalities: Planning and Design Considerations contains seven chapters that cover the major aspects of compost facility design and operation. Chapter topics include composting options (such as the composting methods and technologies available to municipalities); planning a municipal compost facility (including assembling a planning team, conducting a market survey, and identifying potential costs); siting a new facility; obtaining feedstock for composting (including sorting and separating mixed municipal solid waste); making compost; marketing compost; and managing a facility for long-term success. Information presented in the eight planning and contract documents, physical and chemical characteristics of commonly composted raw materials, a compost pad area calculation, and a listing of handy conversion factors. Also included in the book are 41 illustrations, 15 tables, numerous sample calculations, a glossary, and a list of resources for additional information.

Composting for Municipalities: Planning and Design Considerations was put together by Mark Dougherty, professional engineer and former staff engineer at NRAES (Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service). Mark attended the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service's Better Composting School and received a certificate of technical ability in composting from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Compost School.

List of Figures

List of Tables

Introduction

The Benefits of Composting
Benefits to the Municipality
Benefits to the Compost User
Compost Uses
Classes of Compost

Chapter 1: Composting Options

How Much of a Community's Waste Stream Can Be Composted?
SIDEBAR: Subtitle D
Yard Trimmings Composting
Food Residuals Composting
Biosolids (Sewage Sludge) Composting
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Composting
SIDEBAR: Small-Scale Home Composting
SIDEBAR: Land Application of Biosolids and Biosolids Compost
What Composting Methods are Available?
Open Piles (Heap Composting)
SIDEBAR: Chemical and Physical Contaminants in Mixed Municpal Solid Waste
Turned Windrows and Piles
Aerated Static Piles
In-Vessel Systems

Chapter 2: Planning a Municipal Compost Facility

Identifying Objectives
Assembling a Planning Team
Establishing a Public Participation Process
Identifying Specific Community Objectives
Conducting a Market Survey
Defining the Compost System
Determining the Appropriateness of Available Technologies
Assessing Composting's Compatibility with the Existing Solid Waste System
Identifying Potential Costs
Defining the Role of Local Government
SIDEBAR: Joint Ventures in Municipal Composting: Case Studies
Soliciting and Selecting Proposals
Sending Out Requests for Vendor Qualifications
Distributing Requests for Proposals
Evaluating Proposals from Qualified Vendors
Selecting Vendor(s) and Beginning Contract Negotiations

Chapter 3: Siting a New Facility

Site Selection
Site Accessibility
Water and Electricity
Separation Distances (Buffer Zones)
Facility Design
Area Requirements
SIDEBAR: Sizing a Composting Pad
Drainage Requirements
SIDEBAR: Composting Pad Alternatives
Implementation
Permitting (Environmental and Regulatory Considerations)

Chapter 4: Obtaining a Clean Feedstock

Collection Options
Traditional Curbside Collection
Drop-Off Programs
Source-Separated Organics Collection
Co-Collection of Organics
Materials Delivered to the Facility
Keeping Accurate Records
SIDEBAR: What is a Waste Characterization Study?
Testing Compost Feedstock
Monitoring Facility Throughput
Sorting Operations
Sorting and Separating Mixed MSW
Controlling Tip Floor Leachate, Odor, and Vectors

Chapter 5: Making Compost

Feedstock Preparation: Establishing the Conditions for Composting
Setting the Initial Nutrient Balance
SIDEBAR: Formulas for Determining Composting Recipes by Weight
SIDEBAR: Sample Calculation: Recipe Proportions, Moisture Content, and C:N Ratio
Setting Particle Size and Initial Porosity
Adding Bulking Agents
Setting the Initial Moisture Content
SIDEBAR: Adding Liquids to a Compost Pile
Initiating Microbial Diversity
The Final Mixing
Controlling Odors
Active Composting
Managing Biological Activity (Stability)
SIDEBAR: How Oxygen Affects Pile pH and Odor Generation
SIDEBAR: How Pile Height Affects the Composting Process
Managing Pathogens
Curing
SIDEBAR: When Is a Compost Ready for Curing?
Screening and Refining
Screening
Refining
Storing Compost
Adjusting to Seasonal Demands for the Product
Preparing the Product for Market

Chapter 6: Marketing the Product

Marketplace Specifications
pH
Soluble Salt Content
Nutrient Content
Water-Holding Capacity
Bulk Density
Moisture Content
Organic Matter Content
Particle Size and Texture
Stability
Seed Germination and Plant Growth Response
Trace Elements
Inerts
Pathogens and Weed Seeds
Product Documentation
Product Labeling
Distribution Records
Marketing Strategies
SIDEBAR: Restrictions on the Use of Compost
Importance of Consistent Product Quality and Availability
Market Value
Developing and Improving Markets
SIDEBAR: Promotional Efforts
SIDEBAR: Units of Application for Compost

Chapter 7: Managing for Long-Term Success

Community Relations
Public Outreach and Involvement
Responsiveness to Complaints
Nuisance Control
Odor Control
SIDEBAR: Example: Sizing a Biofilter
Runoff and Leachate Control
Vector Control
Dust, Noise, and Litter Control
Facility Operation
Safety
Process Evaluation
SIDEBAR: Example: Calculating Moisture Content
Contingency Planning

Appendix A: Characteristics of Raw Materials

Appendix B: Metric Conversions

Appendix C: Sample Market Survey

Appendix D: Sample Outline: Composting Facility Request for Qualifications

Appendix E: Sample Outline: Composting Facility Request for Proposals

Appendix F: Sample Evaluation Form: Compost Facility Proposal

Appendix G: Approximate Cross-Sectional Area of Windows/Piles, in Square Feet

Appendix H: Compost Pad Area Calculation

References

Glossary

Additional Resources

Other Publications from NRAES

Back to the Top