For commercial and institutional food generators (e.g., food processors, grocery stores, restaurants, and institutions), composting food scraps onsite can greatly reduce waste collection and disposal costs, and provide a valuable compost product for use in landscaping.
Commercial food scraps can be managed by using in-vessel composting technology. In-vessel composting systems can compost waste volumes from a few pounds to more than 60 tons a day. Compostable materials are placed in the container and mixed, shredded, and aerated by the system. Some in-vessel systems are fully automated with sensors to monitor temperature, oxygen, and moisture. They use biofilters to reduce or eliminate odors. This is a good method for institutions with large amounts of compostable materials and limited space.
There are several questions to consider when planning a large-scale, onsite food composting program. Do you…
- Have enough space?
- Have staff resources to separate food from trash and/or to operate equipment?
- Have the appropriate infrastructure (i.e., electrical, sewer backup) for the type of technology you want to use?
- Have an end use for the finished compost?
- Have nearby business’ or residential neighbors’ support and cooperation?
- Have or need approval from your local enforcement agency? Please see "Do I need a permit to compost food scraps?"
Before starting an onsite compost project, you might want to call your local waste hauler and/or recycling coordinator to determine if there is an existing or planned food collection program in your area. Also ask your waste hauler if they offer a discount for separated organic materials.