Composting Of

In the United States, 180 million tn, or 4.0 lb per person per day of MSW were generated in 1988 (U.S. EPA 1990). The rate of generation has increased steadily between 1960 and 1988, from 88 million to 180 million tn per day (U.S. EPA 1990). Furthermore, the rate continues to increase (Steuteville and Goldstein 1993). In 1988, 72% of the MSW was landfilled. At the same time, due to strict federal regulations, mainly the RCRA, the number of landfills has decreased (U.S. Congress 1989). For the protection of human health and the environment, old landfills are being closed and new ones must be carefully constructed, operated, and monitored even when the landfill is closed. Thus the cost of disposing MSW by landfilling has greatly increased.

The increasing rate of generation, decreasing landfill capacity, increasing cost of solid waste management, public opposition to all types of management facilities, and concerns for the risks associated with waste management has led to the concept of integrated solid waste management (U.S. EPA 1988). Integrated solid waste management refers to the complementary use of a variety of waste management practices to safely and effectively handle MSW with minimal impact on human health and the environment. An integrated system contains some or all of the following components:

• Source reduction

• Recycling of materials

• Incineration

• Landfilling

The U.S. EPA recommends a hierarchical approach to solve the MSW generation and management problems. Using the four components of integrated solid waste management, the hierarchy favors source reduction, which is aimed at reducing the volume and toxicity of waste. Recycling is the second favored component. Recycling diverts waste from landfills and incinerators and recovers valuable resources. Landfills and incinerators are lower in the hierarchy but are recognized as necessary in the foreseeable future to handle some waste.

Essentially, the goal of integrated solid waste management is to promote source reduction, reuse, and recycling while minimizing the amount of waste going to incinerators and landfills. Composting is included in the recycling component of the hierarchy. This section discusses the composting of MSW.

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