There is a large variety of things that can go into compost piles, but there are also materials to avoid. These can alter the quality of your final product and even ruin the mixture. It is common to think that if something is organic, it will decompose well with everything else. But, this is not always the case. Here are seven things you should never put into your compost mixtures.

1. Pet and human waste

Both pet and human waste can be dangerous because it can hold pathogens and bacteria. The only way to compost these materials safely is to use a system that produces extremely high temperatures for long periods of time. Some commercial and municipal operations can do this, local laws and regulations likely allow for it. This is why it is best to avoid waste altogether.

2. Meat and dairy products

These products are biodegradable, but they are extremely likely to attract pests and unwanted animals. Even if your operation is located within a city or on a busy farm, wildlife can still get into your piles. If you can’t avoid using meat or dairy products in your compost, place them at the bottom of the mixture. This can be effective for medium and large operations because the piles are so tall. Here are some other issues with meat and dairy.

Smell: Not only is the smell enticing to wildlife, but it is also disgusting to people. Your local and state laws probably have regulations about odor to help your operation smell a little better.

Decomposition: Meat takes a lot longer to decompose than other compost ingredients. For compost to be of high quality, it must be a uniform mixture.

Contamination: As stated above, meat and dairy can contain harmful bacteria and pathogens. This is especially true for raw meat, which should NEVER be included in your compost.

3. Bones

These are too dense to decompose with other ingredients properly. They can actually take hundreds of years to decompose completely, even with a large number of microbes present in compost. Pork and beef bones are the densest.

4. Treated wood and its products or remnants (like sawdust)

You can use sawdust and wood scraps in your commercial compost as long as the material hasn’t been treated. The products used for treating wood can ruin your entire compost mixture. Even heat-treated wood can cause harmful materials to seep into the compost.

5. Foods with a high acid content

Adding too much acidity to your mixture can kill off the good bacteria and microbes within the compost. Avoid foods like citrus fruits, pickled foods, and any tomato products to protect the PH levels of your compost piles. If your commercial operation does not have a processing facility, be sure to separate any of these items from the materials you receive before throwing them in to decompose.

6. Oily or greasy foods

Because compost piles require a specific amount of moisture to thrive, adding greasy or oily foods is not the best idea. Commercial composting operations can use these materials but know how and when to use them, as well as how to control moisture levels.

7. Weeds

Just because weeds are plants does not mean they should be composted. First, they may take root and ruin your compost mixture. Second, if they have been killed with spray, the chemicals could stunt or stop the composting process.

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