Ohio EPA Seeks Comments on Proposed Food Composting Rules

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled changes to its composting rules that it hopes will encourage more food composting, improve performance and effectiveness at composting facilities and allow the use of wood as a bulking agent. The agency is accepting public comments on the changes through Feb. 1, 2011.

This draft rule creates a new Administrative Code chapter (3745-560) solely for composting regulations and extensively reorganizes the rules. According to an agency press release, notable changes to the draft composting rules include:

  • An exclusion from obtaining an annual solid waste license and establishing financial assurance for composting facilities that accept only food scraps generated by the owner of a composting facility. This would remove a barrier that discourages schools and institutions from on-site food composting. Registration and operational requirements would still apply.
  • Facility inspections would be required upon registration of a class II, III or IV composting facility and all facilities would submit a plan to demonstrate they meet siting criteria.
  • Performance standards would specify minimum turning frequency for piles and minimum distribution of finished compost to ensure solid wastes would be adequately processed and ultimately distributed as a salable product.
  • Acceptance of clean whole wood, including pallets, would be authorized for use as a bulking agent when the facility has the capability to grind and process the material annually.
  • Compostable serviceware would be allowable in Class I and II composting facilities that meet standards specified in the proposed rules.
  • Closure timeframes would be shortened from 180 days (class I) and 210 days (class II), to 30 days to ensure noncompliant composting facilities that have their registration revoked clean up the site immediately. This change would not impact properly managed composting facilities as the owner or operator could request termination of the registration after closure requirements were fulfilled.

As part of the rule reorganization efforts, Ohio EPA created several “multi-program chapters” to consolidate requirements -- such as licensing and financial assurance -- that apply to many different types of solid waste facilities, including some composting facilities. Since these new rules would be relevant to composting facilities, the agency says it released them at the same time to give composting stakeholders an opportunity to review them.

E-mail comments should be sent to [email protected]. Written comments can be faxed to (614) 728-5315 or mailed to:

Angel Arroyo-Rodriguez
Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049

Ohio EPA says it will consider all comments received by the close of business on Feb. 1, 2011, before it formally proposes the rules. Additionally, another public comment period and a public hearing are planned before any rule changes are finalized.

Copies of the draft rule changes are available online, or by contacting the Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management at (614) 644-2621. In addition, full copies of all draft and proposed rules are available for review at any Ohio EPA district office and at Ohio EPA’s central office.