Financial Benefits of Composting

October 16, 2020

There are a plethora of reasons to compost, whether it be in the interest of reducing food waste, improving the quality of your own garden, or to reduce your household carbon footprint. 

At Pela, we are (obviously) strong advocates for composting whether you live in a rural, urban, or suburban environment. We even created the world’s first 100% compostable plastic which has helped us to keep more than 300,000 pounds of plastic from ever being produced. We are invested in helping people to make better choices for the planet and themselves, which is why we love talking about compost! To learn more about the benefits of composting for the environment, the economy and your garden, check out our article here!

You are probably already fairly well acquainted with the ‘green’ reasons to compost, but here, we’re going to talk about a different kind of green savings.  Something most people don’t know about composting is that it can actually help financially as well. Whether you run a large corporation that ends up dumping hundreds of pounds of food waste, have a small business in an urban area with minimal compost access, or are an individual wanting to learn more about the secret financial benefits of composting, you’ve found the right place. 

General Economic Benefits of Composting

If you live in an urban or suburban area, you may never have considered where your waste goes beyond it being brought from home to trashcan, then picked up by local waste management. If you like in an apartment, your trash may be taken care of by your rental company or landlord, so you may not even know what company/entity is removing your waste.

Save on Contamination Cleanup

While it makes perfect sense that most of us don’t spend much time thinking about, well, garbage, knowing where your waste goes and what happens to it there can help you to gain a better understanding of where your tax dollars go, and what your local government does to handle municipal waste. Incineration and landfills are the most common methods of disposal, which means your trash is either burned or buried. 

In both cases, the disposal methods release toxins stored in refuse and waste, contaminating the soil and polluting the air. Contaminated soil cannot safely be used, and in some cases, can even poison local flora and fauna. To remedy this, many states and local agencies end up spending thousands on cleanup efforts, or fencing off the contaminated areas and moving on to the next. 

The process of composting can completely eliminate wood preservatives, pesticides, and other volatile organic compounds, and can even prevent heavy metals from migrating to water supplies or further polluting the soil. Nutrient-rich compost created by local waste management can even be used to improve the quality of already contaminated soil, and to fertilize public-sector-managed gardens and indigenous/native plant initiatives. Basically, by composting food and yard waste rather than transporting it to a landfill, local governments can both protect the environment and create a usable product from trash. 

Cut Waste Management Costs

The major cost associated with urban and suburban waste management is transportation, since all trash collected from both residential and commercial areas must be shipped to a landfill. Coordinating and executing the transportation of millions of pounds of trash is quite the undertaking, and for larger cities, it can also be quite expensive. 

In New York alone, more than 1.2 million tons of food waste is shipped away to be buried in landfills, costing taxpayers more than $80 per ton. Combined with non-food waste produced by the major city, NYC allotted more than $400 million to trash disposal. In 2013, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan to begin composting a portion of the city’s waste, an initiative that would save the city nearly $100 million on trash disposal costs. 

 

How Businesses & Institutions Can Save by Composting

Government entities aren’t the only ones learning to save money and protect the environment, many institutions and businesses have begun to compost for the sake of the planet and their budgets as well. Like private citizens, businesses and institutions pay landfill and disposal fees, which, for larger institutions, can be extremely costly. In addition to contributing significantly to annual operating costs, many institutions are choosing to start composting for the sake of the planet, actively working to combat their environmental impact/carbon footprint. 

Small businesses, large corporations, educational institutions, public services/resources, and other professional entities often choose to use commercial composting services, though some compost on-site, often using the resulting compost to fertilize plant beds and property fauna, or donated to local community gardens or farms. Here are just a few examples of companies that have saved money thanks to implementing composting initiatives: 

  • Middlebury College in Vermont began composting 90% of its campus food waste, saving the college a whopping $100,000 in waste disposal fees in 2011

  • Mariners Safeco Field in Seattle saved $91,000 in avoided landfill costs in 2011 by diverting 90% of its compostable waste away from landfills

  • New Seasons Market, a small grocery chain operating in the Pacific Southwest began increasing their diversion of food waste away from landfills in 2006, and has since saved $25,000 in disposal costs

  • Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres, has been diverting landfill waste since 2005, saving the park a grand total of $75,000 

  • Home & Residential Savings

    Though you might not be saving tens of thousands by composting at home, residential composting does help to reduce the overall amount of municipal waste and can save you a little bit of money along the way. Here are a few of the financial benefits of residential composting, and some information on how you can tap into those savings yourself. 

    Save on Garbage Pickup

    The average American household produces almost 700lbs of trash annually, but what many people don’t realize is that about 60% of that waste is compostable. Having residential waste picked up by private waste management companies can be expensive, especially in the warmer seasons, or if you have a yard to take care of. Between food, yard, and other compostable waste, most households get weekly if not twice-weekly pickup, with some paying upwards of $100 per week just to have their garbage taken to a landfill. 

    Composting food and yard scraps can help you reduce your household’s landfill-bound waste by 60%, which both cuts down on the cost of garbage pickup services, and helps you to reduce your carbon footprint. Composting at home doesn’t require a yard or tons of space, so if you want to start reducing your trash bill today, you’ll begin composting ASAP. 

    But wait. If you don’t have a yard, won’t you need to pay for someone to pick up your compost? Yes. But, the cost of residential compost pickup is often just a fraction of the price of traditional municipal waste pickup. Even if you end up paying $10-30 a month to have your compost retrieved, you’ll still be saving on the amount of trash you produce and on your household’s carbon footprint. 

    Natural Weed Suppressant 

    If you do compost in your own yard or have access to a compost bin, the final product of the composting process becomes a valuable asset in and of itself. Sprinkle handfuls of compost around your lawn, add to the base of trees, spread throughout flower beds, or add anywhere else you might traditionally use a weed killer. 

    Commercial/synthetic weed killers don’t just kill the weeds, they can also be harmful to bugs, small animals, native plants, and in some cases human health. Instead of spending money on a service that will come and spray synthetic weed killers on your lawn, or spending the money to purchase the weed killer yourself, you can transform your household waste into a natural, non-toxic, entirely safe weed suppressant. 

    Low-Cost Fertilizer

    Along with its ability to suppress the growth of weeds, compost is also full of vital natural nutrients that can help to promote the growth of plants, trees, and vegetables. In agricultural settings, compost is often used to supplement and improve the health of field soil prior to the planting season, or added to gardens between crops to help restore the soil and improve its nutritional contents. While you might not be farming hundreds of acres of land, you can still use your own homemade compost to make your garden or urban farm happier and healthier. 

    Save on Produce

    One of the most productive uses of compost is adding it to your home vegetable garden. This practice is a great example of living zero waste, taking the scraps of something, and reusing them to create more of the original product. In this case, turning food scraps into compost, and using compost to grow more food. Vegetable gardens can be planted in even the smallest of spaces, and with the addition of nutrient-rich compost, you could be growing your own produce every Spring, Summer, and Fall. 

    Want to make your veggies organic? Be sure to only throw organic compostables in your compost bin. It’s as simple as that. ‘You are what you eat’ is a good way to think about compost quality, because putting good quality scraps into your bin will produce good quality compost. Adding your organic compost to your vegetable garden will ensure your seedlings get plenty of food, helping them to grow big, strong, delicious, and full of nutrition. 

    Once you harvest your vegetable garden, throw weeds, rotting vegetables, dead leaves, and garden scraps in your compost bin. Finally, add the scraps of your veggies like the butts of carrots, the seeds of peppers, and peels of potatoes back into your compost to get ready for next year’s crop. 

    What to Compost to Save Money

    Now that you know that composting saves the environment and money, you really have no reason not to start composting right away. If you’ve never composted before, you’re going to find out quickly that there are a lot of things you have been throwing away on a weekly or even daily basis that could have been going to the compost. Here are just some of the most common items people throw away but should be composting:

  • Yard waste: 
        • Fallen leaves
        • Grass clippings
        • Dead plants
        • Dead houseplants
        • Some chipped wood
        • Weeds
        • Pine needles
        • Wood ashes
        • Cut flowers
  • Household waste:
        • Paper towels
        • Shredded paper
        • Newspapers
        • Toothpicks
        • Matches
        • Brown cardboard
        • Natural fabrics
        • Compostable plastic
  • Kitchen waste:
      • Fruit and vegetable peels 
      • Fruit pits
      • Fruit and vegetable scraps/cuttings
      • Stale bread, crackers, cereal, etc.
      • Grains
      • Coffee grounds
      • Tea
      • Eggshells

    Most Affordable Home-Composting Option

    Despite the fact that compost is literally trash, home-composting has developed a kind of “bougie” reputation amongst many city dwellers. Composting is often considered inaccessible by people living in urban areas, largely because these individuals typically live in apartments, condos, or houses without much yard space. Because of this, the idea of being able to compost at home suggests some kind of luxurious accessibility, making many falsely believe that they are ‘underqualified’ to begin composting at home. 

    In truth, there are many ways to compost, and almost all of them are both affordable and accessible. Other than traditional outdoor composting, here are two unique and cost-effective ways you can compost at home

    Bucket Composting & Pickup

    The easiest way to compost at home, whether you have a yard or not, is bucket composting. There are a lot of services that specialize in bucket composting, and a quick Google search should give you plenty of results in your area. These services typically include a pickup and dropoff service, wherein the company you choose brings you a 10-gallon bucket to keep under your sink or on a porch. Toss your scraps into the bucket, keep the lid sealed tight, and set up a pickup for whenever your bucket is filled. Once your bucket is full of scraps, the company you choose will come to retrieve the filled bucket and leave a clean empty one in its place. 

    Bokashi Composting

    Bokashi composting is the fastest home-composting process, and while it involves a little bit of an initial investment, this futuristic countertop composting system is well worth the price. The Bokashi System converts organic scraps into solid waste that can be buried, and super-nutrient-rich “Bokashi juice” that can be added to your garden, houseplants, lawn, and more. 

     

     

    We hope you enjoyed learning about the many benefits of composting. If you’re still hesitant about composting at home, an electric composter like Lomi could not make the process easier.

    Visit our website to see what people are saying about Lomi and order yours today!