Policy and Legal Obstacles to Community Composting

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* Slideshare presentation via https://www.slideshare.net/ILSR/policy-and-legal-obstacles-to-community-composting

By Nick Stumo-Langer and Kourtnii Brown of Common Compost.


"There are MANY LAYERS of compost laws! Everywhere you go, they are DIFFERENT! And they are always CHANGING!

Two major categories of laws and policies:

  • Protection: Laws that protect against air/water pollution, odors, pests, fire, unattractive compost bins or facilities, safety, traffic, and inaccurate fertilizer labeling. A challenge for community compost: These are important laws, but they are often designed for large-scale composting.
  • Planning: Laws and programs to divert waste from landfills, streamline collection and composting, and improve soil. A challenge for community compost: Top-down planning often favor large-scale solutions. You need 5 permits to compost!

1. Generators Protection: Laws that govern dumpsters and bins, including their size, appearance, location, and frequency with which they are emptied. Planning: Programs to support, encourage, and/or require source-separation. Carrot-top:

2. Haulers Protection: ● Local hauling permit requirements ● Vehicle permit requirements ● Permitting of transfer sites Planning: Increasingly, municipalities have centralized hauling systems and sometimes give exclusive hauling rights to one or a few haulers, which prohibits others from hauling.

3. Composters Protection: ● Facility permitting and oversight ● Zoning approval for facility location ● Local/regional air, water, vector control, and fire regulations Planning: Grant, loan, and technical assistance programs to help establish compost facilities.

4. New Soil Protection: ● Laws requiring testing and labeling of compost for sale ● Laws determining application allowed for different quality grades of soil Planning: Grant, loan, and technical assistance programs to encourage application of compost to improve soil quality and sequester carbon.

More information