Commercial Composting - You Need To Look At It Differently

At first thought, one might expect a commercial composting facility to just be a larger version of a home compost pile. However, that's definitely not the case. There are a number of additional factors that need to be taken into consideration in the operation of a commercial composting enterprise.

When selecting the location for a commercial facility, there are a number of additional concerns that must be evaluated. The site needs to be planned in regard to the proximity to residential property and bodies of water, and sited in accordance with local zoning regulations. Very importantly, the prevailing winds must also be accounted for.

When you have a large commercial composting facility, one of your prime considerations has got to be safety. Any leachate that originates from the compost needs to be monitored, not only for pathogens, but also for excessive nutrients that could negatively affect the surrounding area or groundwater. Also, the waste materials used to feed the pile should be checked on a regular basis. Additionally, since heavy equipment will be present in any commercial facility, normal industrial worker safety precautions, such as the observation of OSHA regulations, should be implemented.

One possible problem that most people would not think of in an operation like this is the possibility of fires, but since the generation of finished compost creates heat by the very nature of the process, it is a very real threat. The temperature of the compost can exceed a hundred and sixty degrees Farehneit. At this point, spontaneous combustion is a real possibility. Therefore, all preparations for combating fires need to be in place before the first load of waste material is accepted.

It's probably not necessary to state that the typical commercial composting facility could sometimes have a problem with odor. Compounding the situation may be the fact that an active compost heap will generate heat, and that heat will rise, lifting the odors to where they can be carried by the prevailing winds. There are a number of things that can contribute to an odor problem. The compost pile may be too wet, it may be too large, it may have insufficient oxygen, or there could be a number of other problems. Certain types of smells indicate certain specific problems. An ammonia smell usually means that the file has too high of a pH level. Conversely, a rotten egg odor would normally indicate an excessively low pH level. The ingredients of the compost can be adjusted to correct these odiferous situations.

In an attempt to head off odor and safety problems before they occur, the feedstocks are usually inspected for presence of contaminants upon arrival at the facility. Charging an extra fee to accept materials that are contaminated is one solution to that problem. Regardless, any contaminants that are identified should be removed before the feedstocks are allowed to be used in any commercial composting activity.

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