A study with over 50 real samples of domestic and industrial compost from the organic fraction of municipal waste shows the viability of domestic composting as a waste treatment technique, with the generation of a stable, pathogen-free compost of high agricultural value. The quality of industrial compost depends heavily on the process technology and conditions, especially with respect to respirometric stability. In conclusion, domestic composting can and should be a real and technologically suitable option for the treatment of municipal waste and it minimises the impact of such treatment.
Composting is amongst the most environmentally friendly technologies for the management of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) and it enables material recovery. Composting of OFMSW at industrial level has been widely studied and the number of treatment facilities has grown in recent years. Although it has not been studied to the same extent, domestic composting has also been proposed as an alternative or complementary manner of managing the OFMSW produced in households.
Recently, industrial and home or domestic composting has been studied with respect to environmental impact, particularly in terms of energy consumption and environmental burdens (Colón et al, 2012; Martínez-Blanco et al, 2011). Taking account of environmental aspects, home composting has some potential benefits, such as eliminating the need for waste collection and transport. However, domestic composting of OFMSW also presents some environmental problems, mainly arising from the absence of systems to treat the gases generated.
Dra. Raquel Barrena, Dr. Xavier Font, Dr. Antoni Sánchez. Department of Chemical Engineering, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Article published in: FuturENVIRO December 2013