Composting is one of the waste management options available to us, along with other common options like landfill, recycling and incineration.
In this guide, we list the pros and cons of composting.
Summary – Do The Pros Of Composting Outweigh The Cons?
For organic matter that is aerobically composted, and under other specific composting conditions, yes – composting can have a net positive result.
Anaerobic composting is not as good because the energy from the organic material is mostly released as methane.
Composting also has limitations in that only certain materials can be composted.
Pros Composting (Benefits)
More Eco Friendly Than Other Waste Management Options (If Done Under Aerobic Conditions)
Composting, along with recycling, is generally seen as a more eco friendly option for waste management than landfills and incineration for suitable waste material types.
This also applies if the composting is done under aerobic conditions
Available On Several Scales & Levels
Composting can be done at the commercial and industrial levels, but also on a household level – it’s available to everyone to do
Keeps Organic Matter Out Of Landfills
Composting means that organic matter like food waste and yard trimmings stays out of landfills where it might decompose anaerobically – a major cause of methane greenhouse gas emissions.
With roughly 27% of landfill waste (in some countries) being made up of organic matter – it’s interesting to think how much waste could potentially be kept out of landfills if we composted more often
Can Produce A Natural Fertilizer
Composting can produce a type of fertilizer or nutrient rich ‘humus’ mix which can be used for growing plants and food, and generally to enrich or even restore some types of damaged soils
Can Help Decrease The Use Of Synthetic Fertilizer
Composting can decrease the use of synthetic fertilizers (which has it’s own environmental issues it causes)
Can Help With Soil Health
Compost that improves soil health (through improved soil water retention for example) can also indirectly save water and other natural resources – it encourages resource sustainability.
This can also cut costs too
Can Use Bin Liners At Home To Combat Smell In Compost Bins
To combat smelly and dirty composting bins, some people use bin liners in compost bins
Some Fashion Brands Are Looking At Developing Compostable Clothing
Cons Of Composting (Disadvantages)
Only For Organic Matter
Composting is only for organic matter – from animals and plant matter usually.
You still need general waste and recycling collection for plastic, rubber, glass etc.
Smell Can Be An Issue
Compost can smell, and attracts flies
Can Get Dirty
Residential composting bins can get very dirty, and be hard to clean
Can Attract Flies, Insects & Rodents
That want to feed on the organic matter
Takes Up Extra Waste Room At Home, & Can Increase Cost Of Public Waste Collection
Three bins (for general waste, recycling, and compost) can take up room in some homes, and the extra service of composting can actually increase the price residents pay in some areas i.e. they are penalised for doing the right thing
Potential Contamination Issues
Compost can be contaminated if the wrong waste is put in there – which spoils the whole compost mix
There Can Be Health & Safety Concerns With Composting
For example some types of meats, fatty foods, and also human, dog and cat waste and feces should be avoided for their potential to carry bacteria like E coli.
Can Take Work & Time To Develop Good Humus/Fertilizer
Developing a good compost soil nutrient mix can take work and time (right balance of nitrogen and other nutrients, and manual turning and stirring of the mix) – and if you aren’t putting the right balances of organic matter into the compost, the end compost ‘humus’ can actually be damaging or have a neutral effect on the soil you spread it on.
In a nutshell – it’s not a perfect fertilizer by any means
Home Compost Heaps Can Look Ugly
Land & Also Suitable Land Can Be An Issue For Commercial & Large Scale Compost Sites
Like landfills, you need enough land, and the right land/soil to set up commercial composting sites
May Not Be Suitable For Land Poor Countries
Composting on a commercial level may not be a practical option for land poor regions
You can read more about the pros and cons of the 8 different types of composting at directcompostsolutions.com
Recycling vs Landfill vs Incineration vs Composting: Comparison