Composting is one recycling method used to dispose of organic waste material. It is the process of creating piles of waste that break down into reusable biosolids over time. Composting can be a financially viable option depending on various factors. Determining the feasibility of composting helps when considering the potential of composting for a particular operation or location.
Determining if composting is feasible requires consideration of several factors. Factors such as available land, labor, time, waste material and use of the finished product help determine if the operation is viable. Permits, regulations and equipment costs must also be considered in determining the feasibility of composting for a particular operation.
The size of the composting operation is also a factor in feasibility. Smaller operations may not require permits or large equipment because they operate within the limitations of local regulations; farmers who use manure and organic material to improve crop fields and eliminate their waste but do not sell or move compost off-site are an example. Larger operations may need to consider transportation costs because of centralized composting centers; examples would be food processing operations that are considering composting to eliminate byproducts such as carcasses and non-saleable items that would otherwise be hauled to landfills.
Start-up costs for a composting operation must also be included in a feasibility study. Costs such as equipment purchase, permit and license requirements and fees, transport and labor costs will need to be included in any assessment. Determination of the cost of land in relation to other potential uses is also a factor; an example of this would be farms that must determine if land would be more productive as composting centers or cropland.
Part of the feasibility of composting depends on available resources. While organic waste may be readily available, additional material may be required to help in the composting process. Material such as sawdust, peanut hulls, paper or cardboard, yard waste or manure may need to be added to advance the composting process. Tipping fees, the fee charged for dumping of material at a location, may be a method to gain resources and offset some costs, according to Cornell University.
The use of the finished material also is included in feasibility study. Larger operations add the ability of marketing finished compost into their analysis. Smaller farms compare the feasibility of compost to the cost of fertilizers and soil amendments to determine if composting is worthwhile. According to Cornell University, some farms validate feasibility by charging tipping fees for incoming material while selling excess finished compost, thereby creating both income and a free resource.
Location considerations must be addressed to help determine feasibility. Composting operations must be placed downwind of residences and away from water sources, notes West Virginia University. The cost of machinery used to create, move and bundle compost will impact feasibility. The availability of local markets, their size and composition also help to determine feasibility.