DEEP: Composting and Organics Recycling

Composting and Organics Recycling

{Composting Photo Banner}
"However small your garden, you must provide for two of the serious gardener's necessities,
a tool shed and a compost heap."
~ Anne Scott-James
Organic materials that are source-separated from the trash are highly recyclable and should be thought of as a resource, not a waste. Significant increases in recycling rates can be achieved through composting and other organics recycling efforts. Connecticut DEEP has successfully focused efforts on establishing large-scale leaf composting facilities, promoting home composting and grasscycling, and sponsoring pilot programs to compost organics at schools and other institutions. These programs have helped keep food scraps, yard trimmings and grass out of the waste stream, reduce waste handling and disposal costs, return valuable nutrients to the soil, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, thereby decreasing non-point source pollution. 

Connecticut has a history of organics recycling dating back to the late 1980's when the first recycling laws and regulations were passed, and leaves were designated as a mandatory recyclable item. Next on the horizon, the Department will be encouraging the commercial and institutional generators of organics, such as grocery stores, food processors, and universities to implement food scrap recycling programs, and also working toward encouraging the development of manufacturing facilities to turn those organics into compost products, clean energy, animal feed, and liquid organic fertilizer.


Composting at Home

{Home Compost Bin} By composting kitchen scraps and yard trimmings at home, and leaving grass clippings on the lawn, the volume of garbage you generate can be reduced by as much as 25%! Composting and grasscycling is practical, convenient and can be easier and less expensive than bagging these wastes and driving them to the transfer station, or paying a landscaper to take them away.  Leaves and grass clippings are required to be recycled in Connecticut, and composting and grasscycling are great ways to comply.
"Turning Your Spoils to Soil"  Home Composting Video (CT DEEP)
"Composting Has A-Peel"  Home Composting Brochure (CT DEEP)
School Composting Manual  Connecticut DEEP funded the production of this manual to provide a model for Connecticut schools to help them reduce their waste steam, increase recycling and to teach students about responsible waste management and the environmental advantages of composting. In the manual, you will find strategies for initiating a compost plan, bin design, routine steps of the composting operation, promotional activities, as well as an exhaustive section on lessons and resources.  Although written specifically with K-12 schools in mind, the manual could be applicable to other small-scale institutional settings.
A Work of Ort - How to Include Food Scraps in Your Office Recycling Program    This document is a long version of a one-page fact sheet that was developed by CT DEEP Green Team for a workshop called “Going Green Makes Sen$e” which was presented on September 28, 2011 to State Agencies, Municipalities, and Businesses on greening their offices.
DEEP's Office Food Scrap Composting Program  Since 1997, CT DEEP has been separating and composting food scraps, food-soiled paper, and other organics from their office waste stream and composting them on-site.  They have also joined the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.
{Lawnmower} Leaving grass clippings on the lawn returns valuable nutrients to the soil, allowing you to reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer you need to apply.  It is also against the law to dispose of them in the trash.  Learn about all the other environmental, time and cost saving benefits of grasscycling through the following resources:
"Don't Trash Grass!"  Video (CT DEEP) 
"Don't Trash Grass!" Brochure (CT DEEP)
"Don't Trash Grass!" Community Action Handbook (CT DEEP)
Identifying, Quantifying, and Mapping Food Residuals from Connecticut Businesses and Institutions  A GIS mapping tool and database where an entrepreneur, composter, hauler or waste manager can not only see where food generators in Connecticut are located, but can use the information to line-up new accounts, select the right collection vehicles, design efficient transportation routes, and choose logical locations to site new organics recycling facilities.
Compost Erosion Control Study  DEEP and the CT Department of Transportation (ConnDOT)collaborated on a two-year research project which demonstrated that compost was effective in controlling soil erosion, growing turf, and amending soil used in planting trees and shrubs. It resulted in ConnDOT incorporating compost into their "Standard Specifications for Roads, Bridges and Incidental Construction". {leaves in chasing arrow format}
Commercial & Institutional Food Scrap Pilot Projects  A compilation of pilot projects that demonstrate food residual recycling from the commercial and institutional sector.
Federal Agencies
Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) - Search under the Compost/Organics category.
Anaerobic Digestion
AgStar  (EPA)
How Biogas Systems Work (American Biogas Council)
Permitting Toolkit for Food Waste Anaerobic Digesters  (Humboldt Waste Management Authority, CA)
CT Signals Food Scrap Recycling Facilities Are Welcome  (American Public Works Association, March 2012, Diane Duva, DEEP)
Moving Forward with Organics Recycling in Connecticut  (Presentation, March 2014, KC Alexander, DEEP)
Implementing Commercial Organics Recycling in CT: An Overview of CT's Commercial Organics Recycling law (Presentation, December 2014, KC Alexander, DEEP)

State of Composting in the U.S.: What, Why, Where & How  (Institute for Local Self Reliance, July 2014)
Growing Local Fertility: A Guide to Community Composting  (Institute for Local Self Reliance, July 2014)
Municipal Curbside Compostables Collection - What Works and Why?  (MIT Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2014)
White Papers, Focus Papers, Fact Sheets
Greening Food and Beverage Services: A Green Seal Guide to Transforming the Industry shows readers how food service affects air quality, oceans, fresh waters, and land use, and how food and beverage professionals can implement practices to make positive changes.
Source-Separated Organics Recycling Toolkit (Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs; EPA Region 4)
Local governments and other service providers seeking to meet residential waste diversion goals or offer additional collection services for their customers can use this resource to determine the feasibility, associated costs and optimal strategy for collecting organic material.
To get started, read the Guide below. 
Curb-to-Compost Toolkit (Composting Council Research & Education Foundation)
Sustainable Food Waste Management Webinar Series (EPA) Designed to help increase our understanding of food waste issues, and to support grocers, venues, and universities in EPA's Food Recovery Challenge.  Past webinar materials available.
Sustainable Materials Management Web Academy (EPA) Has presentations from several organics webinars.
Sustainable Materials Management Webinar Series (NRC, PA Recycling Markets Center, 2012-2013)  Has audio recordings and presentations from several organics webinars.
Maryland Recycling Network - Has presentations and recordings from some past organics webinars.
Food to Animal Feed Resources

Please see our Large-Scale Organics Management web page for food to animal feed resources.

Food Waste Reduction & Recovery  Discusses food donation, the food recovery hierarchy, tools for preventing wasted food at home, at school and at food businesses, and more. (CT DEEP)
U.S. State Agency Compost Contacts, laws/regulations, and other resources (USCC)

Content Last Updated on May 20, 2015