Home composting challenges in South Carolina

home composting in Simpsonville

Composting at home is an essential tool for sorting organic waste at source, gardening or reducing landfilling. Despite a favorable territory and interesting efficiency, this solution is struggling to become widespread. More in-depth support would help with deployment and limit sometimes harmful practices

A historical practice that is struggling to expand

A practice used for thousands of years, the implementation of individual composting took place in the 1990s. SC waste management experts speak of its growth in these terms: many communities began to subsidize, or even make available free of charge, individual compost bins. Officials date back to 1995 and 1994 respectively for the first distribution by communities. The state plan to support domestic composting in 2002 was the first institutional boost. He set a target of one million homes equipped by the end of 2012, an objective achieved and exceeded before 2010 according.

The EPA in South Carolina estimates that 0.3 million composters were distributed by communities between 2000 and 2020, in an effort to reduce pollution. More recently, this figure was revised and the estimate was 0.4 million since the start of distributions. In these data on distributed composters, the difficulty is to know the share of practitioners, and new practitioners.

For the latter, certain equipment is added to a first (already provided by the community if it authorizes it, or otherwise obtained otherwise), others replace a practice in heaps, or replace a composter which has reached the end of its life by example. At the end of 2021, 99% of communities in SC had implemented this historic composting solution for sorting bio-waste at home.

Many homes equipped with composters by communities

Despite these historic prevention operations, the community is not the preferred route to obtaining composters for households.

A practice dominated by non-use of public service

In its last major 2020 survey on domestic organic management, the EPA estimated that 62% of metropolitan respondents had an individual composter (or worm composter) without resorting to the community. For its part, other waste disposal experts analyzed according to data provided by some communities, the number of people using other tools to compost would be nearly 1.5 times greater than those using composters provided by the community. This also implies that they do not necessarily have access to guides, training, information provided by the community to carry out their composting successfully.

To this non-use, we must add households who compost in piles, without equipment. According to another survey survey, 25% of respondents said they compost their food waste in piles in the garden. A study on the burning of green waste announced 24% composting of green waste in piles. We can therefore say that the majority of individual composting in South Carolina is done without using the public waste service.

The house with a garden: ideal for composting

In 2021, individual houses represented 58% of housing in SC. This is the dominant mode of housing. Not all of these accommodations automatically have a garden, and conversely living in a collective residence does not necessarily mean not having a garden.

A survey estimated that 35 to 45% of households residing in individual housing managed their kitchen waste at home. But that did not mean that they all composted, animal feed was an important way of recovery. Among these 35 to 45%, there were 30 to 35% who composted their kitchen waste (to a greater or lesser extent).

More recently, another study estimated nearly 25% of the population currently practices individual composting (all types of habitats combined). The problem is that the national share of households living in a house with a composting garden is unknown.

For its counterpart, green waste, the latest EPA survey indicated that 21% of respondents with an exterior (garden, balcony, terrace, etc.) composted green waste. In a more recent and more targeted survey on the garden, 68% declared they composted at least one green waste. According to this same study, 40% of the same respondents claimed to compost their clippings and 42% their leaves. Still according to this study, for clippings and leaves, CI dominates other practices (leaving on site, deposit in recycling center, mulching, mulching, collection, placement in OMR, burning, etc.).

These data are declarative, they may therefore differ from reality. This is why it is necessary to evaluate more precisely what is covered by the practice of composting at home by households. In any case, despite the apparent convenience of composting in your garden, it still seems to be a minority practice.

A practice that seems effective but is still difficult to evaluate today

This composting proves to be rather effective in terms of diversion of bio-waste according to cumulative studies to date. But almost all of these studies call for refining the data and taking it with a grain of salt. Samples may be small and methodological uncertainties (estimates, surveys, household self-weighing, etc.) may alter their reliability. But the data begins to firm up despite everything, and coherence seems to emerge.

For one study, the 40 kg displayed is a low hypothesis. For the study by academics, among the 38 volunteer households who weighed, the number of 42 kg stood out for the weak sorters (average at 54 kg). In contrast, another study carried out using control households, gives 67 kg. It is considered to be in the high range of data by the EPA. For this study, a number of 69 kg emerged for those who carried out extensive sorting.

From this, we can suspect that an average of diverted biowaste is somewhere between 50 kg and 60 kg/inhabitant/year. We can assume that the average has increased in fifteen years from results from better mastery of the composting process by households who compost more leftovers. Finally, by adding green waste to composting, the 2015 study approximated a total of 100kg of composted bio-waste.

Performing individual composting? Despite the accumulating data, it is not, in the current state of knowledge, possible to compare the quantities sorted in local management and separate collection due to the lack of information and or reliable indicators for example. Also, the sorting instructions communicated to households are sometimes not the same between collection and on-site management.

Also on costs, EPA emphasizes the lack of information. Monitoring of this indicator needs to be implemented and/or consolidated. Among the ten sources examined on the costs of local composting, 8 only one stood out for individual composting. One estimates it at $2.93/inhabitant. The EPA calls for great caution on this data given the variability of the information transmitted by the 75 communities. This cost could increase in the event of greater support for users by communities. At a time when biowaste is sorted at source, not being able to quantify this cost more than fifteen years after the implementation of individual composting may seem surprising.

In short, experts conclude that despite being widespread and ancestral, the practice of local composting (including individual composting) remains complex to evaluate. The agency asserts less than half of the communities evaluate the results of the actions they have carried out on individual composting. To remedy this, the Agency calls for strengthening the monitoring of several parameters to be able to measure the effectiveness of the actions deployed and the achievement of the regulatory objective.

The EPA lists criteria such as the population served versus the participating population, the quality of the practice, the quantities diverted, the quality of the compost produced, the human and financial resources dedicated. In addition to the difficult evaluation of weight loss, or economic evaluation, it is also difficult to gauge the quality of practices, but it certainly reduces pollution in the USA.

Composting at home is an essential tool for sorting organic waste at source, gardening or reducing landfilling. Despite a favorable territory and interesting efficiency, this solution is struggling to become widespread. More in-depth support would help with deployment and limit sometimes harmful practices A historical practice that is struggling to expand A practice used for…