Frequently Asked Questions
What is food scrap recycling and composting?

Food scrap recycling through composting is a “manufacturing process” that entails converting inputs into compost products. These types of facilities do not store food waste or resemble a landfill in any way. Materials are brought onto the site and composted into a clean, high-quality soil amendment.

What is compost?

Below is the official definition for what can be considered compost.

Compost is the product manufactured through the controlled aerobic, biological decomposition of biodegradable materials. The product has undergone mesophilic and thermophilic temperatures, which significantly reduces the viability of pathogens and weed seeds (in accordance with EPA 40 CFR 503 standards) and stabilizes the carbon such that it is beneficial to plant growth. Compost is typically used as a soil amendment/enhancement, but may also contribute plant nutrients (AAPFCO definition, official 2018). Finished compost is typically screened to reduce its particle size to improve soil incorporation.

What is an Aerated Static Pile System?

This compost-generating method involves mixing organic waste in a large pile and providing air pore space in the pile by adding wood chips, yard waste or other bulking agents. Aeration is provided through a blower system. Most systems have a thermocouple feedback to turn aeration on or off based on temperature. These systems can be negative (pulling air) or positive (pushing air) aeration. This method of composting can speed up the composting process and effectively handle large quantities of materials.

What is brought onto composting sites? Do materials stay on site? Are byproducts from composting safe?

Vivaria Ecologics accepts food scraps. As part of the composting process, a layer of wood chips covers the materials to absorb odor and trap heat.

Once the composting process is complete, the material leaves the site for use as soil amendments in landscaping and agricultural uses to improve soil health and productivity. In New Jersey, a recent law requires that every State department or agency that engages in landscaping or construction activities on State property or for State projects use compost, mulch or other soil amendments produced at composting facilities.

What do large, commercial facilities look like? What kind of equipment is used on the site?

Our facilities are designed as aerated static pile systems with bunker configurations to manage the material. Air is drawn through pipes then through a biofilter (wood chips) to control odor. The use of electric equipment, such as electric loaders, on site can reduce noise and air emissions.

What happens with stormwater at compost facilities?

Rain that passes through the compost piles - contact water - is collected in underground storage tanks. This water is a valuable resource for reuse in the composting process or for soil enrichment since it contains nutrients that are beneficial for the soil.

General stormwater, that does not come into contact with the compost piles, is handled through bioswales and retention or detention basins.

Do these types of operations attract rodents or wildlife?

Composting materials reach temperatures of 140-160 degrees during the composting process, which makes them unattractive to wildlife.

What about odor?

The aerated static pile composting process involves using a layer of wood chips to cover the material and absorb odors. The effectiveness of aerated static pile technology is widely proven across decades of use in the United States and internationally. Additionally, unlike turned windrow composting, the piles are “static” and, therefore, placed on aeration for three to four weeks, which helps control odors. Following the primary composting phase, the material is then moved for curing for approximately four weeks.

How much water is used for operations?

Water use includes occasionally adding moisture to compost piles, as needed, and potable water use is only required for office and restroom facilities for staff use. Retained onsite stormwater is used in the first instance for the compost piles, with well water usage only as back-up. Composting toilets are also an option to reduce potable water requirements on site.

Are there similar sites around the United States or elsewhere?

The commercial composting industry in the United States is well developed. Vivaria Ecologics incorporates proven technologies, including use of aerated static pile systems, along with best management practices and routine testing.