The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has recently published a new report, Composting State of Practice: Results from a National Operations Survey, shedding light on the current landscape of composting operations in the United States.

Waste360 Staff, Staff

February 22, 2024

2 Min Read
Jim West / Alamy Stock Photo

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has recently published a new report, Composting State of Practice: Results from a National Operations Survey, shedding light on the current landscape of composting operations in the United States. Conducted in collaboration with the US Composting Council (USCC) and the Desert Research Institute (DRI), the survey offers valuable insights into the design capacities, production levels, and regional trends in organic material composting.

Compiling responses from over 300 composting facilities, the report paints a vivid picture of the industry in 2024, highlighting key findings shaping the future of composting in the U.S.

One of the most exciting findings of the report is the significant growth of the composting sector. The tonnage of organics processed and the number of active composting facilities have shown substantial increases in 2019 and 2021 compared to 2016 levels, indicating a positive trend in the industry.

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The report also identifies notable regional variations in composting facilities. For example, the Northeast is characterized by a higher number of facilities with small or micro design capacities, while the Southeast and Pacific regions have fewer but larger capacity facilities, helping them lead the way in tons of materials processed.

Another key finding of the report is that windrows are the most common composting method, with 42% of facilities utilizing this approach. However, over 20% of the surveyed facilities use multiple composting methods. Multi-method facilities are responsible for processing more organic waste and thus producing more compost compared to facilities using single-method composting.

When looking at ongoing issues and operational concerns, most of the report’s respondents state that physical contamination and labor are the most important areas of concern. On the flip side of the report, respondents believe microplastics and chemical contamination are less critical but are aware they may become significant issues as new regulations emerge.

The report also dives into the differences in revenue facilities see based on region and size of the locations. According to the report, tipping fees are much more important to facilities in the Pacific and Southeast regions, while product sales make up a much higher percentage of revenue in the Midwest.

Composting State of Practice: Results from a National Operations Survey sets out to be a critical resource for those interested in innovative composting strategies. Stakeholders and environmental advocates can use the report to get a look into the composting industry’s current state. The full report can be accessed on the USCC website or the EREF website.

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