Composting as a Waste Management Solution:
Leaves & Grass are Not Enough
Composting is a growing solution to solid waste management. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of waste that has been diverted from landfill disposal through composting has quadrupled since 1990, from 2% of total MSW to 8.4% today. In fact, 62% of all yard trimmings are composted in more than 3,500 municipal yard trimming composting programs in the US and 23 states ban at least some organics disposal in landfills, mostly leaves, grass and other yard debris.
The problem is that about 68 million tons of solid waste being sent to landfills is organic material that is not being recycled or recovered. This includes yard debris and food scraps, 23%, and wet/soiled paper, 5%.
"Food leftovers are the single-largest component of the waste
stream by weight in the United States. Americans throw away more than
25 percent of the food we prepare, about 96 billion pounds of food
waste each year. The nation spends about 1 billion dollars a year to
dispose of food waste." - US-EPA
At a national average landfill fee of $35 per ton
(according to the National Solid Waste Management Association), this
disposing of these 68 million tons of compostable materials costs
cities and municipalities more than $2 billion each year in unnecessary
and easily avoided landfill costs.
Instead of a cost to municipal budgets, good-quality compost
material (free from plastic debris or other contaminants) can be an
asset. Depending on the grade and quality of the material, compost
humus can be sold for $26 to $100 per ton.
Want to learn more? Read about source-separated organic materials into municipal composting programs with this fact sheet or visit the US-EPA website on recycling organic wastes.