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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Organics: Compost

California, Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada all have vast areas of land devoted to agriculture. These states have strong markets for compost and other recovered organic materials.

EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge supports the diversion of organic materials from landfills for alternative uses, such as the creation of compost. Not only does this avoid the release of greenhouse gases when the material is landfilled but it also creates a valuable soil amendment. This soil amendment can be applied to agriculture lands to provide the soil with nutrients lost during food production. This results in a sustainable, closed-loop system.

Compost is a soil amendment that is created from the decomposed remains of organic material. When organic materials such as yard waste, food scraps and animal waste decompose in aerobic conditions, compost is created.

Compost is a very nutrient rich product that if often used in landscaping, horticulture and agriculture or as a soil amendment and fertilizer. Compost is a unique soil amendment because of its ability to hold moisture and soluble minerals; both of which help maximize plant growth. These unique abilities also make compost an ideal product to use for erosion control, land and stream reclamation and wetland construction.

Diverting food and green waste also reduces cost by cutting down on landfill tipping fees. The EPA food waste cost calculator estimates the cost competitiveness of alternatives to food waste disposal, including source reduction, donation, composting, and recycling of fats, oils, and grease.

Resource Conservation Funds grantee, the New Found Lands Institute, recently released a report chronicling the best practices for organic waste collection programs and guidance on how to integrate food scraps into composting operations. This report surveys the 121 existing programs in North America and explores the benefits of expanding waste management beyond recycling to composting.  In addition to this summary document (PDF) (2 pp, 296K, About PDF), you can view the full report and more information on organic waste collection at Beyond Recycling Exiting EPA (disclaimer).

Contact

Tom Huetteman (huetteman.tom@epa.gov)
(415) 972-3751

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