Across Wisconsin, backyard compost bins turn grass clippings, leaves, vegetable peels, apple cores and other everyday materials into nutrient-rich compost and mulch. But backyard bins can’t handle the volumes of scraps and trimmings generated by stores, restaurants, landscaping companies and municipal leaf collection programs.
That’s where the professional and municipal compost producers come into the picture. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has new regulations just out that focus on boosting opportunities for large-scale composting throughout the state.
According to Brad Wolbert, chief of the DNR recycling and solid waste section, the new rules were inspired in part by the large amounts of food and other recoverable organic material going to Wisconsin landfills.
“The rules provide an easier path for grocery stores, cafeterias and others to divert their food scraps from landfills to compost facilities,” said Wolbert. “We are seeing an explosion of interest in composting all across the state.”
In addition, Wolbert said the new rules set up a voluntary compost quality designation that could help consumers identify premium compost. The program gives compost producers the opportunity to have compost tested and classified as “Class A Compost.” Such compost would need to meet stringent limits on contaminants.
The rule changes primarily affect section NR 502.12 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code; they will:
– allow for larger volumes and a greater variety of materials, like food scraps, to be accepted at licensed compost facilities;
– encourage municipal leaf and yard composting facilities to become more active managers of their operations;
– enable the DNR to estimate and track the volume of materials processed by commercial and municipal composters from year to year;
– improve water quality protections at large compost facilities; and
– create a voluntary product testing program and list the standards that must be met for compost facility operators to designate their products “Class A Compost.”
Wolbert noted that finding ways to put organic materials back to work through composting has the potential to create more job opportunities than merely landfilling them. “It doesn’t make sense to bury these resources when we can recover economic value from them,” he said.
To learn more about composting, please visit the DNR’s website and search “compost.”