Commercial and industrial composting stand apart from home composting in more ways than one. Beyond the basic differences, operators in this field must understand the unique laws and regulations in their industry. These encompass not only odor control but also public safety and health. And let’s not forget about meeting industry standards! The techniques employed and the materials used in large-scale composting operations play a crucial role in ensuring compliance and raising the bar for excellence.

What can large operations use for composting

Home composters don’t usually have to worry too much about using incorrect ingredients in their compost. But, depending on your commercial operation, you will need to stick to a strict list of waste products that you can and cannot use. The basic categories of compostable products are green and brown wastes. Yard waste, like tree trimmings and dry leaves, can be used in any commercial operation. Food waste can be collected on a large scale including eggshells, fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, and food-soiled paper.  Other materials you can use in your commercial compost are untreated wood chips, sawdust, dust, fireplace ashes, and shredded newspapers. The key to remember is to avoid anything that has been treated and know which materials affect temperature, nitrogen, and oxygen levels.

What should not go in a commercial composting pile?

Understanding what can be added to a compost pile is crucial, but equally important is knowing what should not be included. Pet and human waste should never be used in any composting operation because they cause major health hazards. Bioplastics, which are labeled as recyclable, can pose problems for commercial composting operations too. Typically, facilities cannot keep piles at temperatures high enough to degrade these plastics anyway. Below are some other items that should not be included in your compost pile.
  • Dairy Products
  • Bones
  • Meat
  • Cooked food
  • Produce stickers
  • Glossy or coated paper
  • Treated wood
  • Fast-growing weeds or plants
  • Certain types of plant waste like black walnut leaves can be toxic to plants
  • Coal and coal ash
  • Diseased or infested plants
  • Any plant matter that has been treated with chemicals or pesticides
  • Metals, glass, and plastic
  • Synthetic materials like rubber or leather
  • Disposable diapers or any other hygiene products
  • Dryer lint from non-natural fibers
  • Non-compostable labels from fruits or containers
  • Teabags and coffee pods that are not certified compostable
  • Fat, oil, and grease, which can attract pests and cause odor problems
  • Citrus peels and onions, which can interfere with the decomposition process and attract pests
  • Styrofoam or any other form of polystyrene foam

Why is it important to follow these guidelines?

Following these guidelines ensures that the compost produced is high-quality and safe for use. Adding prohibited materials can not only result in a poor-quality end product but also lead to legal consequences if found during compliance checks. In addition, using inappropriate ingredients can disrupt the delicate balance of microorganisms By avoiding these items in your compost pile, you can ensure a healthy and high-quality end product that meets industry standards and regulations. It also helps protect public health and safety by preventing the spread of harmful chemicals or pathogens. As a commercial composting operator, it is your responsibility to properly manage and regulate what goes into your product.

Problems you can encounter with commercial composting

If you don’t use the right mixture of ingredients, your commercial compost could fail to form. This means that you won’t have a product to sell or your compost could be sub-par. Here are some issues to look out for. 
  • Contamination: Unfortunately, contaminants can get into your compost piles at any stage. Pesticides and herbicides can enter your piles when you make them, while heavy metals and bacteria can enter later on.  To avoid contamination, it’s essential to use clean materials and monitor your compost on a regular basis.
  • Odors: Proper composting involves controlling odors throughout the process. You don’t want any unpleasant smells wafting into nearby areas. Follow best practices for odor control by using proper ratios of carbon and nitrogen, maintaining appropriate moisture levels, and regularly turning your piles.
  • Process issues: Sometimes things can go wrong with the process of commercial composting. If the acid-alkaline balance is off, for example, it can ruin the whole mixture. If the piles aren’t turned, they will not get enough moisture or air. If you use the wrong amount of bulking agents, it can cause terrible odors. Be sure to understand the best practices to create a high-quality product.
  • Using the wrong method: Although this doesn’t pertain to what you do or don’t put into your compost, it is still important to know. Commercial composting operators should be familiar with the type and size of piles they work with, as well as ensure they are using the right tools and equipment.

Commercial and industrial compost turners

If you are looking for an efficient, high-quality compost turner for your commercial or industrial operation, contact the experts at SCARAB International. We provide turners in a variety of sizes, including customizable options, to meet your unique composting needs. You can reach us at (806) 883-7621 or Send Us an email for more information.