Ohio EPA has received increased interest in capturing the food waste stream for purposes of composting by universities, businesses and organizations. The motivations for this initiative generally include diversion of the waste stream from landfills, the processing of the waste into a compost product and other environmental benefits associated with composting. Grocery stores and other food waste generators send a significant amount of waste to landfills. Some studies suggest up to 80 percent of a grocery store's waste stream is comprised of food waste, while approximately 50 percent of all food waste generated in the United States comes from businesses that handle food.
Ohio categorizes composting facilities into four classes: Class II facilities are those facilities that can accept food waste, as well as the authorization to accept yard waste, agricultural waste and animal waste. There are three components associated with establishing a Class II composting facility: (1) registration, (2) license and (3) financial assurance.
The registration is a notification to Ohio EPA that provides information, such as facility location, contact person and facility map (no fee). A license is required to operate this class of composting facility, and the fee is based on the maximum amount of waste to be accepted daily. Lastly, financial assurance is money set aside to cover closure costs for the facility.
For more information on Class II composting facility requirements, see Ohio EPA's publication Class II Composting Facility Requirements. The composting rules allow Class II facilities to utilize the following methods of composting: windrow; aerated-static pile; and in-vessel. While Ohio EPA does not promote specific methods or products for composting, the Agency does recognize that there are many products available on the market for composting food waste. You may want to contact the manufacturers or customers of in-vessel systems to learn more about the effectiveness of each product.
Paragraph (A)(1) of Rule 3745-27-03 of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) does exempt from the solid waste regulations any single-family residential premises that disposes (composts) of solid wastes generated on the same premises. Therefore, a homeowner may compost yard waste, animal waste and/or food waste, as long as those wastes were generated on the property. However, the exemption does not apply to a single-family residences that take wastes from either other residential or business neighbors. Furthermore, the single-family residence exemption does not apply to a business that chooses to compost yard waste, animal waste and/or food waste on the business premises.
If you have additional questions or need more information on the regulations for food waste composting, see Ohio EPA's Food Scrap Management website. Also, please see Regulations for Community and Commercial Food Scrap Composting Facilities.