Compost & Healthy SoilSoil can be improved by amending it with compost, mulch mowing (see "grasscycling" below), and other practices such as "no-till farming".
Composting is an important component of "closed loop" recycling. By composting organic residuals, we can transform "wastes" such as yard debris, food scraps, manure, and crop residues into valuable products. According to a 2009 statewide waste audit, over 35% of our state's garbage was compostable material. For more data, visit Ecology's Solid Waste and Recycling Data site.
There are many benefits to making and using compost. It reduces waste, saving landfill space. It reduces production of greenhouse gases by diverting food scraps from landfills. Compost can help build healthy soil and plants by:
Composting at Home
Non-Residential Composting and Data
Tools & Other Resources
GRASSCYCLINGLeaving grass clippings on your lawn adds nutrients back into the soil. Review these web sites and flyers to learn more.
COMPOSTING AT HOMEAccording to a 2009 statewide waste audit, 33% of residential garbage was compostable material. Most of the backyard compostable material consisted of vegetative food (17%) and leaves/grass (9%). Turn this "waste" into a beneficial resource by composting at home in a bin or a pile. Keep vegetable scraps separate to feed red wiggler worms. They'll make good use of those scraps and give you rich vermicompost (worm compost) to use in your garden. When materials are composted correctly, they will smell earthy and will not attract unwanted critters to your bins. See the Tools & Other Resources section to learn how to compost in your backyard and what to look for when buying compost.
Buying Compost and Other Soil ProductsBefore buying compost, read Ecology's "Buying and Using Compost" focus sheet. The following compost facilities list and map include some of the compost facilities in our state.
NON-RESIDENTIAL COMPOSTING AND DATANon-residential is large scale composting, including the processing of feedstocks that are picked up curbside or community collection. Commercial production is for institutions, agencies, compost facilities, agricultural businesses.
Organic material recovery data can be found at Solid Waste and Recycling Data. View the Compost Facility section below for compost facility data.
Compost End-UseCompost facilities around the state are busy turning what was once considered waste into compost. To complete the cycle, finished compost needs to be purchased and used. There are a variety of situations in which compost can be used, including new construction, landscaping and roadside applications.
For more about how compost is used:
Soils for Salmon - In Washington State, there are soil "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) for using compost when soil is disturbed on developed land. Washington Organic Recycling Council (WORC) developed this Soils for Salmon website for builders, developers and landscapers to learn about:
U.S. EPA's Greenscapes - Review this site to learn how to use compost in a variety of applications, including erosion control.
Compost FacilityWashington State compost facilities are regulated under the Composting Facility Standards (WAC 173-350-220). For those thinking of starting a facility, see the focus sheet "Organics Management Facilities: Do I need a Solids Waste Permit?". Also, the Good Management practices and the Solid Waste Permit Application Checklist may be useful.
Click on this map to see where compost facilities are located. Click on each blue dot to read information specific to that facility.
Farm/AgricultureComposting on a farm and at other agricultural locations make it possible to manage certain resources on-site. For agricultural composting operations, our state has several exemptions from solid waste handling permitting. See the Law and Rule page to learn about these exemptions.
View these agricultural composting publications and websites to learn more:
Institution & AgencyLocal solid waste agencies have Solid Waste Plans, which may include how they manage their organic materials. These are often written based on environmental needs and available funds, including Ecology grants. View these Solid Waste Plan examples for ideas when writing or reviewing a solid waste plan:
See the Tools & Other Resources section for more information.
TOOLS AND OTHER RESOURCESReview the following resources to learn how to make compost, how to use it, and more. For home composting workshops and bin sales, check with your local solid waste or public works department. Obtain additional resources by visiting Ecology's Information Clearinghouse.
Open these brochures/guides to learn the basics:
4x6 Food, Trash, Bottles and Cans sign
7x4 Food and paper towels sign
8.5x11 Desktop YES and NO
Compost Logo 1
Compost Logo 2
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.