Compost Buyer Beware!


Let the Compost Buyer BEWARE!

This story certainly does not help the “composting” movement but more importantly it slaps us consumers in the face, shame on us for believing composting is a perfect process.  How wrong we were.

Why do we trust the compost farmer?  Because we can’t imagine they would be doing anything to harm the integrity of composting or soil the image of the compost we are spreading in our gardens.  But when you think about it and read this article it may ruin it for all compost lovers.  I mean shame on us for believing that 100% of the waste received is perfect and not contaminated and if it were contaminated it would the compost farmer’s responsibility to further sort the waste before it is treated, cured and bagged for resale.  Is it possible for food waste to make it from point-of-generation to a bag of sellable compost material without hitting a few bumps along the way?

Let’s start with the sorting. Waste separating and sorting is the key to success, but easy tasks to fail.

Contamination Possibility #1: Food waste contamination happens at the very beginning of the process.  A straw, plastic, paper, or cardboard get mixed in with the tote for “food waste only.”   
Contamination Possibility #2
:  The tote is left in a public area outside for the hauler to pick up.  A passerby happens on the garbage can and tosses in garbage.
Contamination Possibility #3
:  The waste hauler arrives in a “food waste only” truck?  The truck has never been used for anything else and can’t possibly be contaminated itself?  
Contamination Possibility #4
:  The load arrives at the compost facility and is contaminated but what to do with it now?  Dump it and deal with it later, mix it in, or sort it into a pile to be trucked again to a landfill?

So many possible events leading to contamination, and then the trust-worthy consumer orders the compost for his land as happened to Mr. Feitlinger…

An organic farm owner from Symmes Township, Ohio, is suing a gardening store for selling him organic compost that state officials said contained solid waste.

Mark Feitlinger, of M&T Farm, bought 490 yards of what he thought was bulk organic compost from Marvin’s Organic Gardens in Lebanon, Ohio. Feitlinger tilled a large amount of the compost into a field, then built a greenhouse over the area to grow organic garlic year round, only to find out that the material he purchased was neither organic nor compost but had solid waste in it.

After visiting Marvin Duren’s store and composting facility, the Ohio EPA accused Duren of open dumping and maintaining a solid waste facility without a permit. They were also able to confirm that the compost was mixed with solid waste.

To continue to grow organically on the impacted area, Feitlinger will have to dismantle the greenhouse, remove the solid waste and refrain from farming the area for three years.

Feitlinger will lose four to five years of organic garlic farming in a location in which the solid waste from Duren’s composting facility was co-mingled with the Feitlinger farm’s topsoil. Feitlinger is seeking punitive damages, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees from the lawsuit.

Can you blame him?



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