Benefits of Composting

Why Compost?

  • Composting is a way to keep organic material out of landfills, thereby avoiding climate warming gases generated by organic materials in landfills.
  • Organic material like food, yard debris and soiled paper makes up about 58% of what Denver residents send to the landfill.
  • Methane is generated in landfills as organic material decays under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.
  • Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent in its heat trapping capabilities than carbon dioxide.
  • The EPA has identified landfills as one of the largest producers of methane.
  • Although methane collection at landfills is becoming more common, the EPA estimates that over the life of a landfill 25% of the methane generated in a landfill with gas collection will still escape into the atmosphere.
  • Because methane is so much more damaging than carbon dioxide, the benefits of composting organic material far outweigh the environmental “costs” of collecting, hauling and processing organic material with trucks and equipment that burn fuel.
  • The U.S. sent 25 million tons of food waste to landfills in 2005.  The greenhouse gas impact of composting this mass would be the equivalent of removing 7.8 million passenger cars from the road.

Using Compost

  • Composting is nature’s way of recycling and returning valuable organic matter and nutrients to the soil to be used again.
  • Incorporating compost into the soil can help to increase the soil's ability to retain moisture and reduce the need for fertilizers, herbicide or fungicide on farms, gardens and landscaping.
  • Compost increases infiltration and permeability of heavy soils, thus reducing erosion and runoff.
  • Compost can retain 100% of its weight in water and is an important component of gardening in a drought.

Links

For a more in depth look at the environmental benefits of using compost in landscaping and agriculture, and facts on composting and greenhouse gas reductions, visit the following links:

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