Vermont is a leader in large-scale composting and has mandated that virtually all food waste must stop going to landfills by 2020. But it’s finding that large-scale composting has some nasal complications. As Seven Days reports:
The stink at the compost facility on Redmond Road, the largest in the state, emerged last summer as it received increasing amounts of organic waste because of an expansive recycling law passed in 2012.
The situation led to this memorable quote, which I suspect is slightly bowdlerized:
Tom Moreau, general manager of the Chittenden Solid Waste District, which runs the facility, agreed that something putrid was in the air. “Late August, it smelled like blue cheese,” Moreau said. “We all went, ‘What the frick?'”
The story say “compostable plastic bags may be contributing to the problem. More consumers are using the biodegradable bags … But it appears that when compost is sealed in the bags, the rotting smell intensifies and it’s extra odiferous when the bags are punched open in the compost mixing process.”
This isn’t the first complication that Vermont’s composting has encountered. A chemical herbicide made its way into the system at Green Mountain Composting in 2012, so that people buying compost had their plants die. Much dismay ensued.
As a designer and supplier of large scale composting systems I think the title is a little misleading… It might be hard not to make it (composting) stink in OPEN facilities like Richmond Road that handle high odor potential streams like food scraps. However there are a number of enclosed composting technologies that can do a good job of containing and treating the inherent odors from composting on any scale if properly designed and operated. I’d be happy to discuss further if you’d like.
Richard Nicoletti, PE
Compost Systems Manager
(518) 441 0141