Did you know that 28 to 38% of all waste is compostable? For years, most of our yard waste, which is banned from landfills or waste-to-energy facilities, has gone to large commercial composting facilities.
But composting isn’t limited to just yard waste. Commercial composting facilities can take a broader variety of materials, including all types of food scraps (dairy, meat, fat and oils in addition to fruits and vegetables) and non-recyclable paper (paper towels, paper cups, food soiled paper plates/cups/containers).
Collecting compostable material such as food scraps and non-recyclable paper is becoming more common. Some communities are testing or implementing programs to divert the entire organic waste stream, not just yard waste for composting. These communities offer curbside organics collection or drop-off locations for residents. A growing number of businesses, organizations, and schools are also participating in organics collection.
Why throw this stuff away when the finished compost can be put to good use in your yard and garden — and add to Minnesota's economy?
The Minnesota Composting Council recently conducted a first-ever statewide study of the composting industry in Minnesota. The study showed that the Minnesota composting industry created an estimated 700 direct, indirect, and induced jobs.
In addition, the Minnesota composting industry was responsible for $148 million in total estimated gross economic activity. Gross revenues from private and public composting organizations totaled $30 million in 2008 and grew to $38 million in 2013, representing a 27% total growth in revenue.
Minnesota’s composting industry is vibrant and growing, recycling over 660,000 tons of organic materials (i.e. yard debris, food waste, agricultural by-products, etc.) in 2013 into valuable soil amendments while protecting and preserving our environment.
The study was based on electronic and paper surveys that were distributed in the spring of 2014 to all of Minnesota’s compost facilities. The response rate was about 30% and the data were collected, analyzed, and economic modeling was done to determine the total economic impact of Minnesota’s composting industry. The study was funded by a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Environmental Assistance Grant.