Pros & Cons Of Composting (Benefits & Disadvantages)

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

Such as brands looking at compostable jeans

 

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

Read a short comparison guide here of the different major waste management options.

 

Sources

1. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/pros-cons-composting-41835.html

2. https://www.opb.org/news/blog/ecotrope/the-pros-and-cons-of-curbside-composting-in-portland/

3. http://visionlaunch.com/pros-and-cons-of-composting/

4. https://blog.gardeningknowhow.com/gardening-pros-cons/the-pros-and-cons-of-composting/

5. https://www.directcompostsolutions.com/8-methods-composting/ 

6. https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/climate-change/composting-avoid-methane-production

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