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Source Reduction. Funded by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Recycling Grants Program Developed by the Indiana Rural Community Assistance Program - RCAP. Presentation 5: The Composting Toolkit. “Source Reduction” In The Realm Of Composting.

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Source Reduction

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Source reduction

Source Reduction

Presentation 5 the composting toolkit

Funded by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Recycling Grants Program

Developed by the Indiana Rural Community Assistance Program - RCAP

Presentation 5:The Composting Toolkit

Source reduction in the realm of composting

“Source Reduction”In The Realm Of Composting

  • Source reduction programs are those activities which allow yard waste to remain at its generation site without entering the waste stream.

  • Examples:

    • Leaving grass clippings lie

    • Backyard composting

    • “Home made” mulch and brush piles

Documented benefits

Documented Benefits

  • The United States Composting Council looked into the effectiveness of backyard composting education programs across the county.

  • They found:

    • Communities that invested in home composting education realized measurable savings in the costs of waste disposal

    • For an investment on average of $12/ton directly tied to backyard composting education communities saved an average of $56/ton in disposal costs for a net average savings of $44/ton.

Leave it a lawn

It has many names . . .


Mulching Mower

Don’t Bag It

Leave It Lay

They all come down to one simple concept: leave your grass clippings on your lawn.

Leave It A Lawn!

Leave it a lawn1

Leave It A Lawn!

  • Just leave grass clippings on the lawn instead of collecting them.

  • As the grass clippings decompose they release nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium back into the soil, so less fertilizer is needed.

  • The lawn will also need less water because the grass clippings tend to reduce evaporation.

Leave it a lawn2

No Bags

Less Water

Less Fertilizer

Saves Money

Leave It A Lawn!

Backyard composting

Backyard Composting

  • Low tech.

  • Lowest energy costs because the compost is treated at the location where it was “created”.

  • Many styles of bins. The key, however, is not the bin but maintaining optimal conditions.

  • Backyard composting is considered SOURCE REDUCTION by the EPA hierarchy of waste management.

Backyard composting1

Backyard Composting

  • Home composting takes the waste disposal problem and stops it at its source. It reduces the amount of waste that municipalities need to collect as part of their municipal composting programs. By avoiding collection and processing costs, home composting represents the lowest cost management alternative.

Backyard composter

To say there is a variety of shapes and types of backyard composters would be a huge understatement.

They all, however, serve a similar purpose: facilitate the composting process while keeping the materials that are composting within a tidy space.

The following slides are a sampling of the many varieties of home composter.

Backyard Composter

Tumbler composters

Tumbler Composters

Multi chamber bins

Multi-chamber Bins

Wire or enclosure composter

Wire or Enclosure Composter

Cinder block bins

Cinder Block Bins

Pallet composters

Pallet Composters

Prefabricated bins examples not endorsements

Prefabricated Bins(Examples, Not Endorsements)

And more prefabricated bins and in no particular order

And More Prefabricated Bins(And In No Particular Order)

And a few other you re getting the idea right

And A Few Other . . .(You’re getting the idea, right?)

Backyard composters

Backyard Composters

  • Regardless of the type of composter you choose, they should have a few key elements:

    • Be sure the bin you select is well-ventilated. Good air circulation is key to successful composting.

    • The ideally sized structure should be approximately 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet.

      • The pitfall of smaller is it may not heat properly

      • The pitfall of larger is you may not have enough air circulation

    • Placement is as important as the bin. Put it somewhere in the yard where it will get a blend of direct sunlight and shade time.

  • Remember that maintaining ideal composting conditions (moisture, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, proper turning/aeration) is every bit (okay, its more important) than the bin itself.

Ideal composting conditions

Ideal Composting Conditions

  • Particle size  smaller better

  • Moisture  40-60%

  • Temp.  90-140 degrees F

  • Oxygen  >5%

  • Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio:  30:1

    • Also Called Brown/Green or C/N Ratio

Compost trouble shooting

Compost Trouble Shooting

  • Symptom: has bad odor  Problem: not enough air  Solution: turn pile daily until odor is gone

  • Symptom: center of pile is dry  Problem: not enough water  Solution: moisten material while turning pile

  • Symptom: compost is damp and warm  Problem: pile too small  Solution: collect more material and mix the pile in the middle but nowhere else

  • Symptom: the pile will not heat up  Problem: lack of nitrogen  Solution: mix in a nitrogen source such as grass clippings, fresh manure, or fertilizer

Other home source reduction

Other Home “Source Reduction”

  • “Home made” mulch

    • There are a number of small chippers and shredders on the market that allow people to make their own mulch out of trimmings from their yard.

    • In some gardening situations grass clippings or leaf litter can also be used as mulches.

  • “Home made” brush piles

    • These can be attractive and provide animal habitat. Make sure they are not a violation of local neighborhood covenants or ordinance.

Worm composting

Worm Composting

  • Can be done indoors or outdoors

  • Uses the macro-organism, red worms, verses the micro-organisms used in other forms of composting

  • Most effective with vegetable matter food wastes

  • Can be very small or very large scale

Worm composters

Worm Composters



Thank you

Thank You!

  • Additional Questions, Comments, or You Think You Have A Potential Pilot Community

    • Please Feel Free to Contact Me:

      Mark W. Davis

      Technical Assistance Provider

      Rural Community Assistance Program

      Office: 1-800-382-9895

      Wireless: (812) 320-0720


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