On Site Composting - McGovern

Composting On-Site Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection April 6, 2010

Transcript of On Site Composting - McGovern

Page 1: On Site Composting - McGovern

Composting On-SiteMassachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

April 6, 2010

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Why Compost On-Site?• Save money

• Avoid need for transportation

• Control product quality

• Compost available for on-site use or distribution

• Education and empowerment

• Fun!

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Applicable Regulations310 CMR 16 - Site Assignment

Regulations for Solid Waste Facilities

• Composting at schools, other institutions:16.05(4) Conditionally Exempt Composting Operations.

(d) Composting on Industrial, Commercial or Institutional Sites or Zoos. A composting operation located at an industrial, commercial or institutional site or zoo which composts less than four cubic yards or less than two tons per week of vegetative materials, food materials or animal manures that are generated on-site, and where, at least 30 days prior to commencement of operations, the operator notifies the Department and the board of health, using a form as may be supplied by the Department.

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How Does Composting Work & Who Does the Work?

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How to Compost

• Provide: – Food (carbon:nitrogen)

(30:1 = fast, hot)– Moisture (50%) = Damp!– Oxygen (Passive or active

– just do it!)– Habitable temperature

(sufficient mass)(3’x3’x3’ = minimum to maintain heat)

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Optional Ingredients

• Added bacteria/microbes (soil, manure, compost, commercial innoculants)

• Lime (have to be careful not to raise pH too much)

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Do not compost these in a low-tech system:

• Meat, meat by-products

• Fat, grease, oils (in quantity)

• Dairy products (in quantity)

• Manure from carnivores (dogs, cats, humans)

• Large branches

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Do Not Compost:• Toxic materials – pesticides, petroleum products,

chlorine, treated wood, etc.• Trash – glass, metal, plastic

For best results, try to exclude:• Diseased plants• Weeds gone to seed • Weeds that spread by roots and runners (vines)• Invasive plant parts that can resprout

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Do Compost: Clean Vegetative Materials

Sources of Carbon (“Browns”)

Leaves Straw, hay Paper/cardboard Sawdust Wood chips Pine needles Dead, dried up plant

parts: cornstalks, sunflower stalks, etc.


Sources of Nitrogen (“Greens”)

Green plants & parts: (grass clippings, weeds, seaweed)

Food scraps: fruit & vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells

Herbivore manure Alfalfa meal Blood meal

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C:N Ratio

• Responsible for odor generation– Odors can result from excess


• Responsible for temperature and speed of decomposition

• Somewhat responsible for nitrogen content of end product

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C:N Ratio of 30:1 Ideal for fast, hot composting

• Browns: may range from 40-700:1• Greens: may range from 15-40:1

Mix ‘n Match – Use your nose• Equal parts by weight usually

means a higher volume of browns to greens because browns tend to weigh less.

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Recipes and Ratios• Simple “Rule of Thumb” to achieve a 30:1

carbon to nitrogen ratio is to build a pile using a mix of:

• 3 parts “Browns” to 1 part “Greens” For example, 75% leaves & 25% grass or vegetative food scraps

• Can interchange other ingredients from the “Browns” and “Greens” categories.

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1. Very high nitrogen material

2. Added cardboard, straw, compost and water

3. Added more cardboard4. Topped off with hay

5. And covered

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What Is Required?• Compost “manager” – experienced composter

• Site – Appropriate conditions

• Compost System - bins, windrows, open piles, in-vessel, worm beds, mechanized, manual

• Collection containers and liners – recycled buckets or recycling bins, line w/paper or cardboard

• Volunteers or staff to operate the system• Tools – depends on system; shovel & cart

most important tools for our system

• Gloves – A must!

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Site Considerations

• Space – how much will you need?

• Convenience – easily accessible

• Proximity to water source (faucet, not wetlands)

• Appearance - visibility (or invisibility)

• Drainage – no puddling or standing water

• Exposure – shade minimizes evaporation

• Environmental considerations – wetlands, buffer zones, removability

• Neighbors - avoid potential problems

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Marshfield Fair Administration Building

And behind the building, composting!

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Compost System

• Desirable:– Enclosed (if composting food waste)

– Rodent-proof (metal, secure cover and floor and openings less than ½”)

– Volume -1 cubic yard = 27 cu. ft. = 3’x3’x3’ = optimal size for efficient, hot composting

– Built-in aeration system to eliminate turning – Easy to use for those who will be using it

– e.g., if kids, it should be kid-friendly

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Compost System

• Available resources– If money and infrastructure available, consider

high end in-vessel systems (such as Earth Tubs, Compostumblers, WigWams)

– If labor is available, consider building bins for a low-tech system with manual or mechanized turning

– If money and labor are not available, consider using ready-made, passively aerated bins

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New Age ComposterNew Age Composter

Three Compost Bins on State Contract FAC61New Age Composter

3 Models: 11 cu ft, 24 cu ft, 30 cu ft capacity

Vendor: New England Plastics



Bin-11: $46

Bin-24: $53

Bin-30: $59

Add $4 per bin for orders of less than 21 bins

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Earth Machine

10 cu ft capacity

Three Compost Bins on State Contract FAC61

Vendor: Norseman Plastics, ORBIS Co.

888-675-2878 x722


Minimum order: 20

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Three Compost Bins on State Contract FAC61


13 cu ft capacity

Vendor: New England Rain Barrel



Only available in bulk through pre-order programs which are designed and executed by the vendor

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Town of Marshfield donated three New Age Composters, Model Bin-24 (24 cu ft) for the

composting effort at Marshfield Fair

Waste diversion + Education opportunities + Promotion of municipal bin program

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Did they work?

Unscreened compost after a year in the bins with no management once the Fair ended

Volume reduction = 75%

No odor problems during or after the Fair

Composted about 1,000 lbs of food and produce waste from the 10 day event

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Some of our compost ingredients…”Greens”

Veggies from the agricultural exhibits… …soggy pretzels after a rain storm

Bloomin’ onions & all the fixings… Flowers from the horticulture exhibits

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And “Browns”…

Sawdust from the chainsaw artistsHorse bedding

Cardboard and pressed paper Hay sweepings Bedding bags

Wood shavings after an event

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Collection• Gave out containers to vendors with produce

waste – buckets, bins or boxes• Coordinated with existing system for maintaining

agricultural exhibits (trained agriculture volunteers doing daily culling)

• Volunteers collected containers each morning after recycling and waste collection

• Collection evolved and adapted based on needs and available resources

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Label for 5-gallon pails

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Compost collection…where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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Compost from previous year made available to fairgoers

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Make the system easy for others to use

Label bins with instructions

Keep “browns” on hand for covering fresh “greens”

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Thanks to all the volunteers over the years!

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ResourcesWeb Sites






Soil and Compost Testing LaboratoryWest Experiment StationUniversity of MassachusettsAmherst, MA 01003-8010413-545-2311; 413-545-1931 faxwww.umass.edu/plsoils/soiltest

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Books• Minnich, J. and Marjorie Hunt. 1979. Rodale

Guide to Composting, Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA

• Appelhof, Mary. 2000. Worms Eat My Garbage, 2nd Ed. Flower Press, Kalamazoo, MI.

Journals• Biocycle, pub. JG Press, Emmaus, PA.

• Organic Gardening, pub. Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA.

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Contact Information

Ann McGovern

Mass. Dept of Environmental Protection

One Winter St.

Boston, MA 02108


[email protected]

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Marshfield Fair August 20 – 29th, 2010

Dates for next years’ Fair: